Moon Phases

This page is for hunters of Africa who believe the moon phases have a profound influence on animals and hunting success. Some will check the phases of the moon before booking their African hunt dates.

"Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will still be among the stars." Les Brown

Opinions vary, but as a rule African game animals tend not to move around much during dark nights and doing most their feeding during the day.

When there is a full moon it is exactly the opposite, with increased movement during the night and less during the day.

Many outfitters advise scheduling your hunt, especially if you are a bowhunter hunting from a blind, for the dark new moon phase.

Northern Hemisphere Moon Phases

Southern Hemisphere Moon Phases

A Brief Explanation Of The Moon Phases

The phases of the moon are caused by the relative positions of the earth, sun, and moon. The moon goes around the earth in 27.3 days, or 27 days 7 hours 43 minutes, on average. This measurement is relative to the stars and is called the sidereal period or orbital period. However, because of the earth's motion around the sun, a complete moon cycle (New Moon to New Moon) appears to earthbound observers to take a couple of days longer: 29.5305882 days to be exact. This number is called the synodic period or "lunation", and is relative to the sun.

The sun always illuminates the half of the moon facing the sun (except during lunar eclipses, when the moon passes through the earth's shadow). When the sun and moon are on opposite sides of the earth, the moon appears "full" to us, a bright, round disk. When the moon is between the earth and the sun, it appears dark, a "new" moon. In between, the moon's illuminated surface appears to grow (wax) to full, then decreases (wanes) to the next new moon.

The edge of the shadow (the terminator) is always curved, being an oblique view of a circle, giving the moon its familiar crescent shape. Because the "horns" of the moon at the ends of the crescent are always facing away from the setting or rising sun, they always point upward in the sky. It is fun to watch for paintings and pictures which show an "impossible moon" with the horns pointed downwards. Courtesy of NASA

New Moon Waxing Crescent First Quarter
New Moon Waxing Crescent First Quarter

Waxing Gibbous Full Moon Waning Gibbous
Waxing Gibbous Full Moon Waning Gibbous

Last Quarter Waning Crescent
Last Quarter Waning Crescent

Moon Phases & Hunting Recommended Reading

Moon-Phase Deer Hunting

Moon-Phase Deer Hunting by Jeff Murray (2004) are the author's theories on how the different phases of the moon affect whitetail behavior and movement patterns. Readers learn what moon phases make mid-morning hunting the best time to be afield and how to pinpoint the timing, intensity and duration of the rut by using the New Moon formula.

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Page Updated: Aug 2020

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