New moon is December 7

Will you see the moon on December 6? It’s possible if you look very low in the east before sunup. The exact moment of new moon comes before dawn on December 7 for us in the contiguous U.S.

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 7:14 a.m. 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 – 07:14 UTC on July 8, 2013. Image by Thierry Legault.

When the moon is most nearly between the Earth and sun for any particular month, astronomers say it is new. New moon falls on December 7, 2018, at 07:20 UTC; translate UTC to your time.

We don’t see a new moon in the sky, unless there’s a solar eclipse, with the moon directly in front of the sun. The image above shows a new moon, not in eclipse, but taken by an expert using special equipment.

Most of the time, the new moon passes not in front of the sun, but simply near it in our sky. Either way – in front of the sun or just near it – on the day of new moon, the moon travels across the sky with the sun during the day, hidden in the sun’s glare.

In the language of astronomy – a day or two after each month’s new moon – a slim crescent moon always becomes visible in the west after sunset. Astronomers call this slim crescent a young moon. This month’s young moon will be near Saturn, as shown on the chart below:

Let the waxing crescent moon help guide your eye to the planet Saturn on December 8, 9 and 10, 2018. Saturn will drop into the sunset glare – and leave the evening sky – soon thereafter. Read more.

New moons, and young moons, are fascinating to many. The Farmer’s Almanac, for example, still offers information on gardening by the moon. And many cultures have holidays based on moon phases.

The 2019 lunar calendars are here! Order yours before they’re gone. Makes a great gift.

Most of us will never see a new moon, unless we witness a total solar eclipse. Here’s a new moon covering the sun, in an eclipse that swept across the continental U.S. on August 21, 2017. Beverley Sinclair, who saw the 2017 eclipse outside Charleston, South Carolina, wrote: “The skies were very cloudy leading up to totality but, miraculously, slowly cleared as totality approached. This photo shows the diamond ring and Bailey’s beads.”

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

New moon
Waxing crescent moon
First quarter moon
Waxing gibbous moon
Full moon
Waning gibbous moon
Last quarter moon
Waning crescent moon

Read more: 4 keys to understanding moon phases

Bottom line: New moon is December 7, 2018, at 07:20 UTC; translate UTC to your time.

Check out EarthSky’s guide to the bright planets.

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Deborah Byrd