Crescent Moon Search

Last November a chance sighting of a new crescent moon has begun a search this year. Why wait a year?

The sun and moon shift positions over the year moving north from December to June and south from June to December. As we are situated between a number of hills, there is a clear vision of the horizon at sunset at new moon only a few times during the year.

Of course the crescent moon is visible every month, but only several days after new moon. The quest is to see the crescent as soon after the new moon as possible.

sunset before the crescent moon
Without good filters capturing the sunset is difficult. Standing looking down the valley toward the clouds turning first yellow then pink, the grass and trees slid from green into darker shades as the light faded away. Birds called as they went to roost. Bats flew out of the woods. Crickets started their chorus. The peacefulness makes it hard to leave.

For those unlucky enough to live where the moon phases are difficult to see, the moon revolves around the Earth every 29 1/2 days. Its rotation is such that the same side of the moon always faces Earth.

The moon has no light of its own. The sunlight reflects off the moon so only the side facing the sun is lit.

As the moon revolves, the area lit up increases then decreases as we see it. At new moon, the moon is on the side between the Earth and sun so the entire lit side faces away from us.

Each night after that the moon moves a little farther away from the sun revealing some of the lit portion to us. How soon can we see that first sliver of light? Perhaps on that very next night.

We traipsed out to the south pasture the night after new moon. We were early so we browsed through the chinkapin oak leaves admiring the circular fungus spots on them.

crescent moon
The sky is almost dark when the crescent moon appears. It is actually too dark for my camera to get a good picture as it tries to limit the bright light from the moon and still capture the sky. Folklore says this ushers in a dry month. For me it seems to usher out an Ozark dry spell as the next storm dropped over an inch of rain.

The sun sank down below the horizon. The clouds turned salmon, then pink. We didn’t see the crescent moon.

We tried again the next night. It was a lovely evening, fairly warm, no wind. Dragonflies darted above us as the clouds began to color. Several bats flitted across the sky. Squirrels chattered back in the woods. A crow flew over toward a roosting spot.

We’d given up a sighting of the moon standing there only because the night was so pleasant. And there it was! A thin sliver of white appeared in the cleft between hills at the far end of the south pasture.

Maybe next month the sky will again be clear on the night after the new moon.

Each full moon has a name. Find out more in “Exploring the Ozark Hills“.