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Go young moon hunting at dusk

Tonight – July 24, 2017 – find an unobstructed horizon in the direction of sunset, shortly after the sun goes down. If possible, perch yourself on a hill or balcony, so that you can view a bit more sky beyond your ground-level horizon. Then, as the twilight fades around you, search for the pale, whisker-thin waxing crescent moon near the sunset point on the horizon. You might try starting your search 30 or 40 minutes after sunset. Binoculars will come in handy! If you’re lucky, you might also see the star Regulus and planet Mercury.

From mid-northern North American latitudes, the moon follows the sun beneath the horizon an hour after sunset. At more southerly latitudes, like those in South America, the moon stays out longer after sunset, so the young moon (and Regulus and Mercury) should be easier to spot from that part of the world.

Northerly latitudes in the world’s Eastern Hemisphere might have to wait until after sunset July 25 for their first glimpse of the moon’s return to the evening sky. But southerly latitudes in Africa (and possibly in Australia) have a decent chance of spotting the young moon after sunset July 24. Plus, we received this image of the July 24 moon from Malaysia:

Multazam Yazid captured the extremely young waxing moon – only 1.5% illuminated – on July 24, 2017 from Telok Kemang Observatory, Port Dickson, Malaysia. He was using a Takahashi TOA-150 telescope and a DSLR Canon 550D.

The moon turned new on July 23 at 9:46 UTC. At North American time zones, that places the new moon at 6:46 a.m. ADT, 5:46 a.m. EDT, 4:46 a.m. CDT, 3:46 a.m. MDT, 2:46 a.m. PDT and 1:46 a.m. AKDT. So the moon will be more than one and one-half days old by the time North American residents catch the young moon after sunset July 24.

Click here for recommended almanacs; they can tell you the moon’s setting time in your sky.

After you catch the moon – or even if you miss the moon – try looking for Mercury and Regulus in the deepening evening twilight. We talk more about Mercury on our post for July 25.

Next month, in the United States, the new moon will actually pass right in front of the sun on August 21, 2017, to stage a total solar eclipse.

Bottom line: Tonight — July 24, 2017- and tomorrow night, enjoy the young moon’s return to the evening sky.

Bruce McClure

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