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Where’s the moon? New phase

On the day of new moon, the moon rises when the sun rises. It sets when the sun sets. It crosses the sky with the sun during the day.

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 07:14 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 precise moment of the new moon – at 07:14 UTC on July 8, 2013. Image by Thierry Legault. Visit his website. Used with permission.

What is the ghostly image at the top of this post? It’s a new moon. Its lighted half is facing entirely away from Earth.

New moon comes on June 5 at 3 UTC (June 4 at 22 CDT). Translate to your timezone.

The image is as if you flew in a spaceship to a place where you could see the night side of the moon. When the moon is new, its night face is facing us on Earth … and we can’t see the moon at this time.

On the day of new moon, the moon rises when the sun rises. It sets when the sun sets. It crosses the sky with the sun during the day. That’s why we can’t see the new moon in the sky. It’s too close to the sun’s glare to be visible. Plus its lighted hemisphere is facing away from us.

Each new lunar cycle is measured beginning at each new moon. Astronomers call one lunar cycle a lunation.

The next new moon is June 5, 2016 at 0300 UTC. That is June 4, 2016 at 10 p.m. CDT. Translate to your time zone here.

A new moon is more or less between the Earth and sun.  Its lighted half is turned entirely away from us. Image via memrise.com.

A new moon is more or less between the Earth and sun. Its lighted half is turned entirely away from us. Image via memrise.com.

Composite image of a 2006 solar eclipse by Fred Espenak.  Read his article on the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse, first one visible from contiguous North America since 1979.

Composite image of a 2006 solar eclipse by Fred Espenak. Read his article on the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse, first one visible from contiguous North America since 1979.

We can’t see the new moon from Earth, except during the stirring moments of a solar eclipse. Then the moon passes in front of the sun, and the night side of the moon can be seen in silhouette against the disk of the sun. Meanwhile, if you could travel in a spaceship to the opposite side of the moon, you’d see it shining brightly in daylight.

Once each month, the moon comes all the way around in its orbit so that it is more or less between us and the sun. If the moon always passed directly between the sun and Earth at new moon, a solar eclipse would take place every month.

But that doesn’t happen every month. Instead, in most months, the moon passes above or below the sun as seen from our earthly vantage point.

Then a day or two later, the moon reappears, in the west after sunset. Then it’s a slim waxing crescent visible only briefly after sunset – what some call a young moon.

It should be possible to see the moon on September 15, 2015.  This photo is from the previous night, September 14.  Gene Porter in Georgia wrote:

Young moon, visible a day or so after the new moon phase. A young moon is seen in the west after sunset. It’s a waxing crescent moon. Photo by Gene Porter in Georgia.

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

Understanding Moon Phases
Waxing Crescent
First Quarter
Waxing Gibbous
Full Moon
Waning Gibbous
Last Quarter
Waning Crescent
New Moon

Everything you need to know: The intriguing cycle of closest and farthest moons

Deborah Byrd

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