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Word of the Month

David Zapatka

Are you one of those people who enjoy looking at the moon? What is your favorite phase of the moon? The romantics love the full moon while others prefer the crescent or gibbous moon. Some say the new moon. Grandson Trace loves to see the moon in the sky and read what the moon has to say in Deepak Chopra’s book You With The Stars In Your Eyes when the moon comes down out of the sky and walks the beach with a child explaining the pure awareness of light. I have a painted wooden moon hanging in my office smiling at all who look that Trace always admires when he comes to visit.

The word “gibbous” as used in the paragraph above is this month’s word of the month submitted by reader and bridge-playing friend, Susan Hoffelt. While we may be familiar with the adjective “crescent,” “gibbous” is less familiar.

Gibbous (ɡɪbəs) – adjective, (of the moon or a planet) more than half but less than fully illuminated; having a hunchback; hunchbacked; bulging. Origin is late Middle English: from late Latin gibbosus, from Latin gibbus ‘hump.’

Used in a sentence:

Perhaps it was due to the gibbous moon which was shining right through my window on to my bed. Holt, Victoria The Black Opal.

Peyton noted them first when they climbed out of the crater into the full light of the gibbous Earth. Asimov, Isaac The Complete Stories Volume Two

When looking through a telescope to view craters on the moon, what is the best time when the moon is full, three-fourths, one-fourth or new? Astronomers will tell you the best time is at one-fourth or three-fourths which is commonly called the half-moon. This is when the moon is illuminated from the left or right from the viewer’s perspective; when the moon is exactly between the crescent and gibbous stages.

After the new moon, the sunlit portion is increasing, but less than half, so it is waxing crescent. After the first quarter, the sunlit portion is still increasing, but now it is more than half, so it is waxing gibbous. After the full moon (maximum illumination), the light continually decreases. So the waning gibbous phase occurs next. Following the third quarter is the waning crescent, which wanes until the light is completely gone — a new moon.

There is nothing you can see that is not a flower; there is nothing you can think that is not the moon. Matsuo Basho

Please submit any thoughts you may have on this month’s column or any word you may like to share with our readers along with your insights and comments to [email protected].