This weekend, watch for a morning moon

Image at top via Buddy Puckhaper of Charleston, South Carolina.

Full moon was May 7, 2020, and by May 8 the moon is in a waning gibbous phase, rising later and later at night. For the mainland United States, the May 8 moon rises in the southeast nearly two hours after sunset. The days following full moon present the perfect time to catch a daytime moon over your western horizon after sunrise. Watch for it!

Chart: moon and the bright star Antares with slanted green line of ecliptic.

If you’re a night owl, you might see the moon and the bright star Antares before your bedtime on May 8 and 9, 2020.

View the moon in your eastern sky late in the evening this weekend, perhaps before going to bed. It’ll be ascending in the east later and later each evening. Then look for it low in your western sky right after sunrise. Day by day, the lighted portion of the waning gibbous moon will shrink. The half-lit last quarter moon will come on May 14, 2020.

The moon is up in the daytime much of the time. But, because it’s pale against the blue sky, it’s not as noticeable during the day as at night. However, there are certain times of the month when the daytime moon is more noticeable, and this weekend presents one of those times.

Huge very faint pale moon against blue sky behind radio tower with large round antennas.

You’ll often miss the moon during the day because it’s so pale against the blue daytime sky. Look closely this weekend, especially in the hours after sunrise. Look west! You’ll see it. Our friend Jenney Disimon in Sabah, North Borneo, caught this daytime moon on January 4, 2018.

Why is the daytime moon most noticeable now? The moon is up during the day half the time. It must be, since it orbits around the whole Earth once a month. A crescent moon is hard to see, though, because it’s so near the sun in the sky. At the vicinity of last quarter moon about a week from now, you might have to crane your neck, looking up, to notice it after sunrise.

This weekend’s moon is noticeable simply because the moon is still showing us most of its lighted face; it appears large in our sky. Also, in the hours after sunrise, the moon is fairly near the western horizon, so people out and about early this weekend might catch sight of it.

At mid-northern latitudes in North America, the moon will set about two hours after sunrise on May 8. It’ll set roughly one hour later after sunrise each day thereafter.

These recommended almanacs can help you find the moon’s setting time in your sky

Pale gibbous moon against sky-blue background.

Daytime moon seen on December 18, 2010. Image by Brian Pate. Used with permission.

Bottom line: The moon is now in a waning gibbous phase. Beginning Friday or Saturday morning – May 8 or 9, 2020 – shortly after sunrise, you’ll see it floating pale and beautiful against a blue sky. Look west!

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Bruce McClure