Never to poke your ear with your elbow

New Moon

Simulated image of New Moon in night sky, by famed Asian artist Ai Fuld Yu. (Sorry)

Trying to view the Moon tonight (Monday, March 27, 2017) would be like trying to poke your ear with your elbow — you can’t do it and it would not be very bright if you tried.

You see, the Moon is “new” tonight, meaning that it is in line with the Sun, very similar to the situation that occurs during a solar eclipse. In the case of a solar eclipse, the Moon passes directly in front of our central luminary and blocks out its light.

But in today’s situation, the Moon passes near the Sun, but not directly in front of it. So while the Moon is actually there in the sky, but more than 99% of its illuminated portion is turned away from Earth, and what is left is simply not bright enough to show, given the blinding blaze of the Sun.

“New” simply implies that the Moon will start a new series of phases, which happens every time the Moon passes near the Sun. This takes about a month, and is where we get the word “month,” which originally was “moonth.” Anyway, since there is no Moon in the sky tonight to contribute to the sky glow, it is still a good time to participate in the citizen science project called “Globe at Night.” The March observing period ends on Wednesday, though, so check it out soon:

Although you can’t see the Moon tonight, it will emerge in the westetrn twilight as a thin crescent later in the week. There may be a very slight chance of seeing it tomorrow (Tuesday) evening, Wednesday and Thursday evenings are better bets.

By the way, my reference to poking your elbow into your ear came from my pediatrician when I was very young. I don’t recall ever sticking anything into my ears, but I did have a serious ear problem when I was 8 or 10, and the doctor always reminded me never to put anything into my ears smaller than my elbows.


About Starman

Cosmic Awareness Facilitator. Astronomy, space, physics, science, planets, cosmology, reason, logic, clouds, sky phenomena, the environment, dogs and other animals, and other interesting stuff.
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