waxing moon

Posted in Uncategorized by bowsprite on 2014/01/05


The moon rose set tonight brilliantly silver, big, and thin.

I once learned a good trick which I still use to remember the difference between a waxing and waning moon.

However, it is in German.

The curve of the waxing moon fits into the cursive ‘z’ of zunehmen. Nehmen means to ‘take,’ zu means to oneself, so the moon is taking to oneself; it is augmenting, increasing. It will soon be Full.


The curve of the waning moon fits into the rounded part of the ‘a’ of abnehmen, which means to diminish, decline. (It’s not pretty, but think of ‘abscess’ and how good it is for that to diminish.) The moon will soon fade to New.


Waxing Cresent…Waxing Gibbous…Waning Gibbous…Waning Crescent
(this work has been released into the public domain by its author, Tomruen.)

Danke to my bud, Ray of Zurigo, for this tip, on that clear night in the Ticino so many moons ago.

14 Responses

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  1. Miguel said, on 2014/01/05 at 08:12

    How about “right returning?”

  2. Buck said, on 2014/01/05 at 11:38

    I never knew the German mnemnonic. I always taught my kids DOC for waxing, full, waning. What a glorious image! The ancient moon is new, but the old Colgate clock is newer and we tell different times from each:-)

    • bowsprite said, on 2014/01/07 at 19:44

      DOC is a good one. But I will probably confuse that, as I confuse other letters, and tell everyone to grab a PDF during boat drills.

  3. Rigmor said, on 2014/01/05 at 15:50

    Beautifulll !!! You, the Moon and the happy new year. Love to you from the Nordic skyline .
    Rigmor Lisbeth

    • bowsprite said, on 2014/01/07 at 19:42

      under your skies is where i fell in love with stars and satellites, dearest Rigmor! xo

  4. bluebrightly said, on 2014/01/05 at 23:48

    Love the painting – Jersey, yes? The clock – I remember seeing it when I’d take walks around Battery City. Another memory – the crescent moon hanging over the Hudson River from various places in Westchester…lovely. Recently I saw the crescent moon over Seattle – also very pretty. And that’s a neat trick but we must find some good English words. I never knew how to tell the difference.

    • bowsprite said, on 2014/01/07 at 19:45

      DOC is one Buck uses. Yes, we should collect other ones. Lovely photos you’re posting.

    • Su L. said, on 2018/08/17 at 19:17

      I would love to see the full rhyme, as I am no longer in contact with my German dad.
      I adapted the A and Z by adding a step. There is only one letter different in “waning” and “waxing”. N is closer to A (abnehmen) and X is closer to Z (zunehmen). When figuring out which phase the moon is in, I still trace the curve of the moon in the sky to see which letter I am writing, just like when I was a little girl.

  5. tugster said, on 2014/01/06 at 08:19

    unique portrayal of franklin reinauer, but isn’t that moon setting while waxing here?

    • bowsprite said, on 2014/01/07 at 19:40

      unique portrayal of lessons not learnt in celestial nav classes…sigh.
      I did think it would rise out of the west and crawl magnificently northwards.
      At sunrise, those glass buildings are all alit, and early morning shadows are cast, pointing west to east.
      Everything is topsy turvy in this town.

  6. Rembert said, on 2014/01/08 at 14:52

    Wonderful pictures. As I´m a german native speaker, I´m doubly thankful for your advice. And I hope, that with “Ticino” you meant that little village very near the border to Italy, where I studied the Milky Way in long summer nights last year. Just some 100 metros above the rooftop of an atelier, where two young ladies (tolerating a brother) made their first steps into the world of design. On grandmas old sewing – machine from Zurigo… ;).

  7. mageb said, on 2014/01/09 at 14:25

    Did you find out what they were serving for lunch? It may be all topsy turvey, but it helpps us to know what’s happening. 🙂 Love this entry, and glad you are posting more often.

  8. lngcoldfacts said, on 2014/01/14 at 06:45

    Lovely! Looking at this post again early in the morning, getting ready for the day, which makes a nice start. You’ve tied something timeless and beautiful into our ordinary routines. And that is a useful trick about the phases! Both the loveliness and the usefulness are nice to carry away and sweeten up the day with. Thanks for the blessing, Christina!

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