09 February 2010

Old Moon, Young Moon

Every 29 1/2 days the Moon completes one cycle in its orbit around the Earth. For the last few days of the cycle we have an "old moon" and then just after New Moon we have the opportunity to see a very "young moon." I love the challenge of locating the very thin crescent Moon on the horizon, but when found, the reward is worth it, because the Moon always looks a jewel in the sky.

This week we've had a few opportunities to see the very old moon passing by Mercury in the dawn glare. After the New Moon on Saturday, find a good western horizon and try to locate the very young Moon in the glow of dusk. On Sunday 14th it will pass just next to Jupiter and Venus, extremely low on the horizon. You will want to have binoculars nearby to enhance the view. On Monday the Moon is higher in the west, and by Tuesday it is an easy target in the sunset sky. Well below the Moon on Tuesday, however, Jupiter and Venus have their closest approach for quite a while, being about 1/ 2 degree apart (a moon width). For this, you will want binoculars because the two planets will be just on the horizon after sunset.

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