A couple of years ago, when I was doing words that started with the letter of the day and ended with the next day’s letter, my word for W was “wax,” when I discussed waxing the floor. This is another kind of waxing.
One of the things that you’d always see in the weather report in the newspaper was the phase of the moon. What that had to do with the weather, I have no idea, but it was always kind of interesting to me.
This past Sunday was Easter, which commemorates the day that Christians (including Orthodox Christians) believe Jesus, having been crucified a couple of days earlier, rose from the dead and exited the tomb to which he had been committed. The official day that we celebrate Easter is defined as “the Sunday immediately following the first full moon of spring.” However, we don’t rely on the astronomers to determine the date of the vernal equinox (i.e. the start of spring). Rather, the beginning of spring is presumed to be March 21, and an involved algorithm is used to compute the date of Easter based on the year. The result yields a date between March 22 and April 25. The formula is actually pretty accurate: you’ll notice from the table above that the first full moon of spring was on April 19, meaning Easter would fall on April 21, the same date as the formula gives us. (Orthodox Easter, being based on the Julian calendar, is a week later. This year, anyway.)
So, what does all this have to do with waxing? Nothing, really. Just took you on a side trip.
Looking at the calendar above, we see the dates of the new moon, first quarter (when the right-hand half of the moon is lighted), full moon, and last quarter (when the left-hand side is lighted). Between the new moon and the first quarter, the moon is waxing crescent; from the first quarter to the full moon, it’s waxing gibbous; from the full moon to the last quarter, it’s waning gibbous; and from the last quarter to the new moon, it’s waning crescent.
There’ll be a test on this next week. Class dismissed.