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New Moon

Dominic Ford, Editor
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The sky at

The Moon will pass close to the Sun and become lost in the Sun's glare for a few days.

The Moon's orbital motion carries it around the Earth once every four weeks, and as a result its phases cycle from new moon, through first quarter, full moon and last quarter, back to new moon once every 29.5 days.

This motion also means that the Moon travels more than 12° across the sky from one night to the next, causing it to rise and set nearly an hour later each day. Click here for more information about the Moon's phases.

At new moon, the Earth, Moon and Sun all lie in a roughly straight line, with the Moon in the middle, appearing in front of the Sun's glare. In this configuration, we see almost exactly the opposite half of the Moon to that which is illuminated by the Sun, making it doubly unobservable because the side we see is unilluminated.

Over coming days, the Moon will rise and set an hour later each day, becoming visible in the late afternoon and dusk sky as a waxing crescent which sets soon after the Sun. By first quarter, in a week's time, it will be visible until around midnight.

Its day-by-day progress is charted below, with all times are given below in Cambridge local time.

Date Sun
sets at
Moon
sets at
Altitude of Moon
at sunset
Direction of Moon
at sunset
14 Dec 202016:1016:09south-west
15 Dec 202016:1117:04south-west
16 Dec 202016:1118:0716°south-west
17 Dec 202016:1119:1423°south
18 Dec 202016:1220:2128°south
19 Dec 202016:1221:2833°south
20 Dec 202016:1222:3136°south

At the moment of closest approach, it will pass within 0°17'of the Sun, in the constellation Ophiuchus. The exact positions of the Sun and Moon will be:

Object Right Ascension Declination Constellation Angular Size
The Moon 17h28m40s -23°32' Ophiuchus 32'46"
Sun (centre) 17h28m -23°14' Ophiuchus 32'29"

The coordinates above are given in J2000.0.

The sky on 14 December 2020
Sunrise
07:05
Sunset
16:11
Twilight ends
17:52
Twilight begins
05:23

29-day old moon
Waning Crescent

0%

29 days old

Planets
Rise Culm. Set
Mercury 06:56 11:24 15:52
Venus 05:02 09:55 14:47
Moon 07:07 11:38 16:09
Mars 12:48 19:23 01:59
Jupiter 09:30 14:12 18:54
Saturn 09:32 14:15 18:58
All times shown in EST.

Warning

Never attempt to point a pair of binoculars or a telescope at an object close to the Sun. Doing so may result in immediate and permanent blindness.

Source

The circumstances of this event were computed using the DE405 planetary ephemeris published by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

This event was automatically generated by searching the ephemeris for planetary alignments which are of interest to amateur astronomers, and the text above was generated based on an estimate of your location.

Related news

14 Dec 2020  –  New Moon
21 Dec 2020  –  Moon at First Quarter
29 Dec 2020  –  Full Moon
06 Jan 2021  –  Moon at Last Quarter

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Cambridge

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42.38°N
71.11°W
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