Jul 20, 2023

Displays the phase of the moon

Phoon displays the phase of the moon, either currently or at a specified date / time. Unlike other such programs, which just tell you how long since first quarter or something like that, phoon shows you the phase with a cute little picture. You can vary the size of the picture with the -l flag, but only some sizes have pictures defined - other sizes use @’s.

In the rich tapestry of software suite available in the FreeBSD ports collection, phoon occupies a unique place in the astro category. A representation of the phase of the moon in ASCII, it’s a fascinating testament to the breadth of utilities catered for in FreeBSD. If you’re an astronomy enthusiast, phoon might prove to be a nifty addition to your FreeBSD toolkit.

Let’s delve into how to install and use the phoon port.

Getting Started with phoon

The FreeBSD ports collection offers a simple way for users to compile and install third-party applications. It is a repository of over 20,000 software applications that are updated on a continuous basis, making it easier than ever to install and maintain software on your FreeBSD system.

To begin, ensure that your ports tree is up to date. You can do this by running the following command

portsnap fetch update

Next, navigate to the astro/phoon directory in the ports tree.

cd /usr/ports/astro/phoon/

Now you can compile and install phoon

make install clean

Once the installation is complete, you can run phoon from anywhere in your system’s command line.


You may notice that the output is a whimsical ASCII rendition of the current phase of the moon.

Practical Utility of phoon

One might initially wonder about the practical use of a command-line program for lunar phases. phoon is a testament to the aesthetics of the command line, a nod to the whimsy and charm that comes from ASCII art. It subtly underscores the power and flexibility that come with FreeBSD and its ports collection.

Moreover, phoon could be utilized in scripts that rely on lunar phases for calculations or scheduling tasks. For instance, repetitive tasks that need to be carried out once a full moon.

This unassuming little port might not be the powerhouse that others are like the [nmap port]https// used for network exploration and security auditing, but it does serve to illustrate the breadth and variety of ports available in FreeBSD.

As an add-on, you can customize phoon output. With the -p option followed by a specific date, you can see what the moon would look like on that date. For instance, run phoon -p 1969/7/20 to check how the moon looked the day Apollo 11 landed!

Embracing the FreeBSD ecosystem

phoon is just one of many utilities available in the FreeBSD ports collection that demonstrate its reach and diversity. A reminder of the richness of the FreeBSD platform – an expansive, continually updated repository harboring tools ranging from the purely functional to the intriguingly esoteric.

FreeBSD’s ports collection is a significant strength of the platform. With a wide choice of applications and utilities ready to be installed with straightforward commands, the ports tree is immensely powerful, meeting varied needs across different domains.

phoon serves as a fun example of a port in the astro category. It’s a testament to FreeBSD’s capacity to cater to a variety of interests and pursuits, as well as its embrace of both the practical and the whimsical.

This appreciation for various aspects of computation is a part of what makes interacting with FreeBSD a delight. Whether serving practical roles in IT security with utilities like nmap, or indulging astronomy enthusiasts with phoon, FreeBSD remains a robust, versatile platform with something for everyone.

Checkout these related ports:
  • Xworld - Earth as seen from the direction of the sun
  • Xtide - Harmonic tide clock and tide predictor
  • Xplanet - Draw pictures of the earth textured by an image
  • Xphoon - Set the root window to the moon in its current phase
  • Xmoontool - Version of John Walker's classical moontool for X11/Motif
  • Xephem - Interactive astronomical ephemeris program
  • Xeartk - Small demo for tkgeomap
  • Xearth - Set the root window to the image of earth
  • Wmsun - Dockapp that displays the rise and set times of the Sun
  • Wmspaceweather - DockApp that shows the weather at geosynchronous orbit
  • Wmsolar - Dockapp that displays the Solar System viewed from the top
  • Wmmoonclock - Displays the phase of the moon, plus orbital data
  • Wmjupiter - Dockapp that displays information on Jupiter
  • Wmglobe - Neat xearth-like WindowMaker dockapp
  • Weather - Utility to provide current weather conditions and forecasts