Friday, May 14, 2010

Rare Young Moon Visible Tonight!

The sky as it will appear tonight at 8:50pm EDT

Tonight at dusk, peeking through the Sun's last rays at about 9pm EDT is a sight that many people never get to see: a young Moon, technically defined as a Moon 24 hours or less from new.

Spring is young Moon season, as the ecliptic is essentially vertical against the horizon, which means for high-flying Moons. After June, the ecliptic at dusk starts to flatten out to the point that by the time July rolls around, seeing a Moon less than a day old will become impossible. Of course, the rest of the variables have to line up just right, too. Well tonight, everything seems to be lining up just right for a chance to see one of the thinnest Moons possible.

To find the Moon, hands and a set of low to mid power binoculars (7-10x) are useful. First, the hand. Hold your fist out at arm's length. Your fist will span about 10 degrees of sky. Tonight, the Moon will be about 5 degrees up, it's low! Next, start scanning the low part of the sky with the binoculars. If you at first don't see the Moon, don't become discouraged! Stick it out and, if the horizon is good enough and haze doesn't interfere, a wire-thin Moon should eventually pop out of twilight.

Seeing is good, photographing is better. To learn about how to photograph a young Moon, go here.

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