When the moon is most nearly between the Earth and sun for any particular month, astronomers say it is new. We don’t see a new moon in the sky, unless there’s a solar eclipse, with the moon directly in front of the sun (the image above shows a new moon, not in eclipse, but it was taken by an expert using special equipment). Most of the time, the new moon passes not in front of the sun, but simply near it in our sky. Either way, on the day of new moon, the moon travels across the sky with the sun during the day, hidden in the sun’s glare. In the language of astronomy – a day or two after each month’s new moon – a slim crescent moon always becomes visible in the west after sunset. Astronomers call this slim crescent a young moon.
And the young moon? Its next appearance is an important question for the 1.6 billion Muslims living in 200 countries on Earth, because this upcoming young moon sighting will mark the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. Read more: When is Eid in 2018?
New moons, and young moons, are fascinating to many. The Farmer’s Almanac, for example, still offers information on gardening by the moon. And many cultures have holidays based on moon phases; for example, the date of Easter is determined by the phase of the moon. Read more: How is the date of Easter determined?
And, of course, many look forward to the return of the moon to the evening sky. This always happens a day or two after new moon.
The chart below is set for middle North America. It shows the young moon the day after new, on June 14. The young moon will be visible from all of North America on that date, in a cloud-free sky. You will also need an unobstructed horizon – free of tall buildings and trees – to see the returning young moon on June 14. The bright object just above the moon will be Venus. Mercury will be below the moon, much harder to see:
Bottom line: As the moon orbits Earth, it changes phase in an orderly way. New moon comes on June 13 at 19:43 UTC; translate UTC to your time.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.