Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Chasing slivers

Here on the Tropic of Cancer the sky is almost always clear and we have good views to the eastern and western horizons. A perfect place for the sport of young and old moon spotting.

Last evening the new moon was 34 hours old, low in the western sky as the sun set -- eyelash thin, but easy to catch in the darkening sky before it too slipped below the horizon. The previous evening the moon was 10 hours old and lost in the sun's light.

The record for a naked-eye young moon is said to be 15 hours. Any moon less than 30 hours old is deliciously thin. Next month (February 9) offers a chance for a mid-20s moon -- indescribably elusive in the waning light.

The same game can be played with old moons before sunrise.

UPDATE: An added lunar note. We read in the news that high tides Monday troubled tsunami devastated coastlines in Asia. January is the time of the year when the Earth is closest to the sun. More to the point, on Monday the moon was closer to the Earth than at any time since March 1993. It will not be closer until December 2008. A bit of bad luck for the tsunami victims.