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Next new moon is February 26

And it’ll cause an eclipse. Read more about the upcoming new moon – and find links to info about Sunday’s “ring of fire” eclipse – here.

Photo via Oliver Floyd.

New moon comes on February 26 at 14:58 UTC. Translate to your time zone. This new moon will cause an eclipse of the sun, which would be a total eclipse if the moon were close enough to Earth in its orbit to cover the sun completely. Alas, it is not, and the eclipse is only annular. That is, at mid-eclipse, an outer edge of the sun will appear in a ring around the moon. The eclipse will be viewed from Earth’s Southern Hemisphere. Click here for eclipse times and more.

Use eye protection if you’re in a position to watch this eclipse!

What will the rest of us see? On the day of any new moon, unless we’re viewing an eclipse, we can’t see the moon with the eye alone for several reasons. First, at 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.

A new moon is too close to the sun’s glare to be visible with the eye. 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.

Our first chance to catch the young moon again will be February 27. Be sure to watch the moon and very bright planet Venus on February 28.

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.

The next solar eclipse will be total and visible from North America. It’ll be the first total solar eclipse visible from contiguous North America since 1979. Read more about the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. Composite image of a 2006 solar eclipse by Fred Espenak.

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.

2017’s second solar eclipse will take place on August 21, exactly six lunar or synodic months (new moons) after the February 26 solar eclipse. This six-month eclipse cycle is called the semester, by the way.

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

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 instant of new moon – 0714 UTC on July 8, 2013. Image by Thierry Legault. Visit his website.

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

Total eclipse of the sun: August 21, 2017

Moon in 2017: Phases, cycles, eclipses, supermoons and more

Deborah Byrd

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