October 16, 2012  |  Design
A Paean to the Phases of the Moon

Irwin Glusker. 2013 Phases of the Moon Calendar. 2011

Since time immemorial the curious have gazed at the ever-changing shape, color, and size of the moon and wondered. The luminous, celestial orb has inspired songs, myths, poetry, and art for thousands of years, and, as we now know, is responsible for the life-enriching tides of the oceans. And while Earth’s moon has been explored and analyzed like no other, it remains both mysterious and lovely—the source of ceremony and celebration, closely entwined with our sense of place in nature.

Lunar observation also figures significantly into the history of math and philosophy. The pioneering Thales of Miletus planted an important seed when he became the first person to accurately predict a solar eclipse in Greece in the 6th century BC. Thales, who Aristotle referred to as the first philosopher in the Greek tradition, insisted on describing natural phenomena through observations and geometry as opposed to mythology. The eclipse provided an obvious and dramatic vindication of the power of reason over belief in the supernatural.

The phases of the moon work in 28-day cycles that are always repeating, with variation created by the moon’s orbit around the earth. This orbit results in differing angles of view for us of the ever-illuminated half of the moon’s surface. Standing on earth, the moon appears to cycle through a variety of shapes, the process of which is described in more detail here. All this variation occurs over periods of time that are not quite a month, so mapping these changes in a year-long calendar presents a unique challenge: how to align the pleasing visual rhythm of the moon’s changes with the familiar months and days for reference?

The most elegant answer comes from graphic designer Irwin Glusker in the form of a poster he created for the MoMA Design Store. In a clean, black-and-white grid, which conforms to the months as rows and the weekdays as columns, the precise phase of the moon on every day of the year is immediately discernable. Remarkably, the design requires no written explanation and allows us to enjoy the visual repetition of the cycles which occur irregularly across the months, with no two quite the same.

As the designer once said, the poster is particularly useful for photographers. In fact, wedding photographers regularly purchase the calendar because it helps them plan what equipment to pack on any given evening so that they may achieve the best moonlit photographs. Techniques vary, but it is often advised to schedule a shoot during the full moon or two days before or after in order to capture the best light. Of course the particular weather conditions, presence of ambient or artificial light, and the type of equipment used will also affect the results. Do you have advice or a story about using moonlight in your photos that you can share?


Hello, I tried to order this calendar today and was told it is discontinued.I am so upset I have purchased this calendar from MoMA for years. Why was it discontinued? And do you have just one left? I am begging

Thank You,
Amy Sigel

PLEASE bring back the phases of the moon calendar. It’s so beautiful and unique, and sadly missed.
Thank you.

2 days ago, I ordered the Phases of the Moon calendar from MOMA and it seemed like the transaction went through. Today I received an email saying this: At the time that you had placed your order, the item 5151-Phases of the Moon went into back order. Because this is a discontinued product, we will not be able to supply one to fill your order.
Hopefully, this just means that I missed it this year. I have bought one every year for the last 12 years, at least. The beauty of it is that it is the exact same size every year and I get it mounted and put it in the same metal frame year after year. Please don’t discontinue it.

I’ve bought this calendar every year for the past 10 years as a stocking stuffer for my son and his best friend. Imagine their disappointment when they didn’t see those tubes sticking up from their stockings this year.
Please bring them back! Obviously if they were on back order they had to be popular.

Dear Lisa and other lunar calendar fans, next year’s calendar should be added back to the online store assortment when it comes in late Spring. The 2013 was indeed online and sold out. There are a very few 2013 calendars left in our onsite Design and Book Store, so please 212.708.9700. Thanks again for all of your interest!

Can anyone recommend a simple frame for this print? I purchased it in mid-December and would love to display it properly.

Hi Lauren,
The beauty of the calendar is that it works well in a variety of frames. Just select one that suits your style and personal taste and fits the calendar’s dimensions and you should be good to go!

Thanks again for your interest in the calendar!

Rebecca- – do you mean that this spring we will be able to order the 2014 calendar, or do you mean the 2013 calendar is going to be made available again?

Attn: Lauren

Consider a 32″ Jørgen Møller Posterhänger in silver or black, instead of a standard frame. I’ve used a black one for years. The tubes are durable, and elegantly complement the calendar.

Thanks, Mike! Great recommendation.

I am looking for this calendar, but the year 2012. Any guidance where can I get it?

Is the 2014 edition available yet. I have noticed this calendar on the walls of friends homes for some years, and would now like to use it for next year’s Christmas presents.

I keep checking every few days for the addition of the 2014 Phases of the Moon calendar. When will it be added?

hi, thanks for your interest in the lunar calendar. It is quite a popular product! Please visit around Aug 9 or 10 — and you can also subscribe to momastore e-news at to get early updates on new products.

hi, thanks for your interest in the lunar calendar. It is quite a popular product! Please visit around Aug 9 or 10 — and you can also subscribe to momastore e-news at to get early updates on new products.

I am trying to purchase the 2014 Phases of the Moon calendar. Do you still produce? Thank you.

Please bring the mon calendar back!

Unable to see it on MOMA website for sale. Has it been discontinued. We buy every year. It usually costs $17.95 and shipping charge is $47.54 to Australia but it’s worth it.

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