Will you see the whisker-thin waxing crescent moon hovering over the western horizon, below the dazzling planet Jupiter, after sunset on Saturday, June 28, 2014? It’ll be a worthwhile challenge to spot this pale ghost of a moon – called a young moon by astronomers – in the glow of twilight. You’ll need a crystal-clear sky, an unobstructed horizon in the direction of sunset and probably binoculars. What will you see? Just the thinnest of crescents in the western twilight sky, for a short time after the sun goes down. Beautiful!
Those in the Eastern Hemisphere – Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand – have little to no chance of catching the young moon today. The best views come from the west coast of the Americas and the Pacific Ocean islands to the east of the International Date Line (for example: Hawaii).
Be forewarned. It’s much easier to see today’s young waxing crescent moon on the above sky chart than it will be in the real sky. Catching the skinniest of evening crescents on the day after new moon is no small feat!
The new moon fell yesterday – on Friday, June 27 – at 8:08 Universal Time (3:08 a.m. Central Daylight Time in North America). You usually can’t see the moon on the day of the new moon because the dark side of the moon is facing Earth at this time. Moreover, on the day of the new moon, the moon pretty much rises and sets with the sun, so it’s only out during the day but beneath the horizon at night.
Today the moon will set shortly after sunset, but will follow the sun beneath the horizon before nightfall. If you’re extremely lucky, you might catch a phantom wisp of the moon’s daylight side extremely low in the sky at evening dusk. Start your search no later than one-half hour after sunset.
Even if you miss the moon today, you may swell spot the planet Jupiter – which is higher up than the moon – about 45 to 60 minutes after sundown. If you have binoculars, though, you might get lucky and even catch the moon.
If it’s clouded over today, don’t fret too much. A clear day tomorrow – on Sunday, June 29 – will feature a larger crescent moon higher up at dusk and staying out longer after sundown!
Bottom line: Look for the very young moon low in the evening twilight sky on Saturday evening, June 28. You’ll be looking west, just above the place where the sun set. The bright object above the young moon is Jupiter.