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New moon is November 29

A new moon rises and sets with the sun and crosses the sky during the day. You won’t see it today, but the moon will return to the evening sky and appear near bright planets, in the days ahead.

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.

The ghostly image at the top of this post is a new moon. When the moon is new, its lighted half is facing entirely away from Earth, and its night face is facing us. That’s why we can’t see the moon at this time.

New moon comes on November 29 at 12:18 UTC. Translate to your time zone.

Lunar 101 - Moon Book caught the moon on the day before new moon, November 28, 2016 - 1% illuminated 4° altitude - just above the sunrise.

Lunar 101 – Moon Book caught the moon on the day before new moon, November 28, 2016 – 1% illuminated 4° altitude – just above the sunrise.

On the day of any new moon, most of us 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.

So you likely won’t see the moon on November 29, unless – like Thierry Legault whose photo appears at the top of this post – you are using special equipment. 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 Legault’s image, which he acquired in 2013. Read more about that image 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.

It is possible to see a new moon if a solar eclipse takes place. 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 a 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.

A typical young moon sighting, for most people with ordinary eyesight, comes when the moon is around 24 hours from new, or more. At the moment there are planets in the west after sunset. The moon will be moving up past first Mercury, and then Venus, in the evenings ahead.

A very thin young moon will be extremely low in the west after sunset on November 30.  It'll be near the planet Mercury.  Read more.

A very thin young moon will be extremely low in the west after sunset on November 30. It’ll be near the planet Mercury. Read more.

The moon will be a fatter waxing crescent - easier to see after sunset - when it passes Venus on December 2, 2016. Read more.

The moon will be a fatter waxing crescent – easier to see after sunset – when it passes Venus on December 2, 2016. Read more.

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

Moon in 2016: Phases, cycles, eclipses, supermoons and more

Deborah Byrd

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