Today, June 13, is a New Moon. It’s also a “supermoon” which may interest those of you who live by the tides. For astronomers, New Moon means no Moon. For many cultures, however, the New Moon carries special meaning. Discover more about today’s New Moon.
What is the New Moon?
The New Moon begins every lunar cycle (29.5 days). It happens when the Moon is in line with the Sun, with the Sun and Earth on opposite sides of the Moon.
As the New Moon crosses the sky during the day, rising and setting around the same time as the Sun, it’s lost in the solar glare.
The New Moon is also lit up from behind, showing us its dark side. It’s doubly invisible.
June New Moon is a Supermoon
Interestingly, the new Moon on June 13, 2018 is considered a “supermoon.” This term refers to a new or full Moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90 percent of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit.
Of course, you can’t see the new Moon so it may not be a very interesting fact to a sky watcher. However, supermoons still affect the tides of those who live in coastal areas.
A day or two after each month’s new Moon, a very slim crescent moon always becomes visible in the west after sunset. It may appear brighter than usual.
And seven days after the new Moon, the waxing Moon reaches it’s First Quarter stage when it’s 50% illuminated. See why we call it the Quarter not the Half Moon.
New Moon Meaning
Here at The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the New Moon is associated with Gardening by the Moon. According to this age-old practice, vegetables that bear crops above ground during the light, or waxing, of the Moon: from the day the Moon is new to the day it is full.
We also look to the Moon’s phases to determine many holidays based on the lunar calendar. For example, learn how the date of Easter is determined by the Moon’s phase.
And, of course, many sky watchers look forward to the return of the Moon to the evening sky with the first sighting of the waxing crescent one or two days later. This very thin crescent is always low in evening twilight.
After the Moon’s absence for a few days, it’s kind of a lunar rebirth.
Thus, many cultures revolved ceremonies around that first appearance of the new Moon.
For Muslims, its sighting officially marks the beginning of each month. The next upcoming young Moon sighting will mark the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
Dark Side of the Moon
We’re often asked about the “dark” side of the Moon. There is no continually dark “side” of the Moon. Every part of the Moon has both day and night in half–month intervals. See more about the dark or far side of the Moon.
A smile or an archer’s bow?
Sometimes we’re asked about when the Moon “smiles.” Only in late winter (January and February) does the waxing crescent Moon look like a smile. The rest of the year it’s more or less lit up on its right side, especially in the autumn. (The crescent Moon is never oriented like a frown).
Aren’t crescent Moon’s beautiful? Who can resist?
Read more about crescent Moons in my article, “By the Light of the Slivery Moon.”