Depending on where you live worldwide, you might – or might not – catch the young moon after sunset March 25, 2020. If you do catch it, it’ll be a whisker-thin crescent near the sunset point on the horizon. On March 25, the newly-born moon will follow the sun beneath the horizon before nightfall. More about the March 25 moon below.
Each day after March 25, look for the moon to be higher up in the sky at sunset. Enjoy the wider and brighter lunar crescent staying out longer after dark. On March 26 and 27, you’ll find the moon still below Venus. Why? Because Venus is now so high up in the west after sunset! It reached its greatest elongation – its greatest angular distance from the sun for this evening apparition and its maximum elongation for 2020 – on March 24.
The moon travels eastward – away from the sun and toward the dazzling planet Venus – these next few days. The moon moves about 1/2 degree (its own angular diameter) eastward from the sun per hour. In the period of one day, or 24 hours, the moon moves about 12 degrees (24 moon-diameters) eastward of the setting sun.
Want to know when the sun and moon set in your sky? Click on this Sunrise Sunset Calendar, remembering to check the moonrise and moonset box.
About that young moon on March 25. Binoculars always come in handy for any young moon hunt. But don’t be too surprised if you miss the skinny lunar crescent after sundown March 25. The young moon must contend with the afterglow of sunset. After all, the moon turned new on March 24, at 9:28 Universal Time, at which juncture the moon was transitioning out of the morning sky and into the evening sky. The young moon still must contend with the afterglow of sunset on March 25.
It is usually quite difficult to see a young moon that’s less than 24 hours old (less than 24 hours after new moon), and nearly impossible to catch a moon that’s less than 18 hours old. If you manage to spot the lunar crescent after sunset March 25, you can determine the moon’s age by noting the time that you first saw the moon. Then click on this Sunset Sunrise Calendar (remembering to check the moon phases box) to find out when the new moon took place for your time zone.
Look for earthshine. As a bonus, note the soft glow of earthshine – twice-reflected sunlight – on the nighttime side of the waxing crescent moon with either the eye alone or an optical aid. Earthshine is sunlight reflected from the Earth to the moon – and then from the moon back to Earth.
It’s along the lunar terminator – the shadow line dividing the lunar day from lunar night – that you have your best three-dimensional views of the lunar terrain through binoculars or the telescope. The terminator on the waxing moon shows you where it’s sunrise on the moon.
And don’t forget the zodiacal light. If you live in the Northern Hemipshere, the zodiacal light will be shining in clear, dark skies, when all traces of twilight have left the sky. Venus will be in its midst. Watch for it.
Bottom line: Watch for the young moon below Venus – in the west after sunset – on March 25, 26 and 27, 2020.
Bruce McClure has served as lead writer for EarthSky's popular Tonight pages since 2004. He's a sundial aficionado, whose love for the heavens has taken him to Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and sailing in the North Atlantic, where he earned his celestial navigation certificate through the School of Ocean Sailing and Navigation. He also writes and hosts public astronomy programs and planetarium programs in and around his home in upstate New York.