[27 February 2004]
Technically speaking, the Moon is never full.
Let's back up a moment. The actual moment of Full Moon that time when the Moon is opposite to the Sun in the sky can be found in any almanac. Some newspapers also provide the exact time. It occurs each time the Moon has swung around on its roughly 29-day orbit.
We could then say that the Moon is officially "full" for only one minute. The Full Moon of Feb. 6, for instance, occurred at 3:14 a.m. EST. In the very strictest sense, one minute before that time, the phase of the Moon was a waxing gibbous; one minute after that time, it was a waning gibbous phase.
But the mechanics of the celestial alignment -- the Sun, Earth and Moon all in a line -- adds a twist to the idea of fullness.