You’ll see a waning crescent moon – sometimes called an old moon – in the east before dawn.
On each successive morning, a waning crescent moon will show us less and less of its lighted portion, or day side. Each day, it rises closer to the sunrise, heading for new moon, when the moon will be between the Earth and the sun.
The illuminated side of a waning crescent moon always points eastward, or in the direction of sunrise.
What’s more, the lit side of waning crescent points in the direction of the moon’s daily motion relative to the backdrop stars and planets of the zodiac. That direction is also east.
Many people miss the waning crescent moon because it’s a morning moon, visible before sunrise. But it’s fun to follow the waning crescent day by day, as it inches into the dawn glare.
As the moon orbits Earth, it changes phase in an orderly way. Follow the links below to understand the phases of the moon.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Prior to that, she had worked for the University of Texas McDonald Observatory since 1976, and created and produced their Star Date radio series. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. In 2020, she won the Education Prize from the American Astronomical Society, the largest organization of professional astronomers in North America. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.
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