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New moon is March 17

New moon comes March 17, 2018, at 13:12 Universal Time. For many around the globe, the time of this young moon – and the season – signal a possible sighting of an extremely young moon on March 18.

View larger. | Youngest possible lunar crescent, with the moon's age being exactly zero when this photo was taken — at the precise moment of the new moon - at 7:14 a.m. UTC on July 8, 2013.  Image by Thierry Legault.  Visit his website.  Used with permission.

Youngest possible lunar crescent, with the moon’s age being exactly zero when this photo was taken — at the instant of new moon – 07:14 UTC on July 8, 2013. Image by Thierry Legault.

A moon at the new phase comes most nearly – for any particular month – to passing between the Earth and sun. The moon turns new on March 17, 2018 at 13:12 UTC. That is 10:12 a.m. ADT, 9:12 a.m. EDT, 8:12 a.m. CDT, 7:12 a.m. MDT, 6:12 a.m. PDT, 5:12 a.m. Alaskan Time and 3:12 a.m. Hawaiian Time. Translate UTC to your time.

New moons come once each month, as the moon orbits Earth. On the day of new moon – unless we’re viewing a total solar eclipse – we don’t see the new moon. That’s because a new moon rises when the sun rises. It sets when the sun sets. It crosses the sky with the sun during the day. Its fully illuminated face, or day side, is turned entirely away from us.

It’s only as the moon moves in orbit, as its lighted hemisphere begins to come into view from Earth, that we can see it in our sky. Then we see the moon in the west after sunset as a slim waxing crescent – what some call a young moon.

There are a couple of reasons why March 2018 will be an excellent time to see a very young moon, a moon only about a day (or less) after new. On March 18, the moon will be less a day old for eastern Asia, Australia and New Zealand. It’ll be slightly more than 24 hours old for Europe and Africa. It’ll be roughly one-and-one-half days old for North America. Also, on March 18, it’ll be nearly spring in the Northern Hemisphere (the March equinox is March 20). Spring is the best time to catch a very young moon, that is, a waxing crescent moon seen in the western sky shortly after sunset.

Especially from the Northern Hemisphere – and especially from North America – look for the returning young moon on March 18. It’ll be near the planets Venus and Mercury … a very scenic view. For all the world, the returning young moon will be above Venus and Mercury on March 19 and 20. Read more.

If you’re in Asia on March 18 – in the Southern Hemisphere (where it’s autumn now, the worst time to catch a very young moon) – you might have to wait until March 19 to see the young moon.

Everyone else … watch for it! You might just spot this fragile crescent in the west after sunset, near the planets Venus and Mercury.

Modern techniques – telescopes, filters, photography – have made it possible to see the moon even at the instant it becomes new. That’s the case with Thierry Legault’s image, at top, which he acquired in 2013. Read more about Thierry’s image here.

As the moon orbits Earth, it changes phase in an orderly way. Follow these links to understand the various phases of the moon.

Four keys to understanding moon phases

Where’s the moon? Waxing crescent
Where’s the moon? First quarter
Where’s the moon? Waxing gibbous
What’s special about a full moon?
Where’s the moon? Waning gibbous
Where’s the moon? Last quarter
Where’s the moon? Waning crescent
Where’s the moon? New phase

Deborah Byrd