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What Is a New Moon? | New Moon Meaning and Facts | The Old Farmer's Almanac

What Is a New Moon?

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Learn All About the New Moon

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It’s a new Moon! For astronomers, a new Moon means no Moon to look at. For many cultures, however, the new Moon carries special meaning. So, what exactly IS a new Moon, when are the new Moons in 2023, and what does a new Moon look like? Let’s explore, fellow Moon lovers …

What Is a New Moon?

A new Moon is essentially the opposite of a full Moon. During a full Moon, we see the side of the Moon that is being illuminated by the Sun, giving the Moon its bright, glowing appearance. During a new Moon, however, we see the side of the Moon that is not being illuminated by the Sun, which makes the Moon blend in with the dark night sky.

When the Moon is “new,” it’s located between the Earth and the Sun. In other words, the Moon is in line with the Sun, and the Sun and Earth are on opposite sides of the Moon. (Note that when the Moon is perfectly aligned in front of the Sun, it blocks out the Sun, giving us a solar eclipse.)

The new Moon marks the beginning of a lunar cycle. This means that there’s a new Moon about once a month, because the Moon takes about a month (29.5 days) to orbit Earth.

In fact, the word “moon” shares its origins with the Latin word metri, which means “to measure,” and mensis, which means “month.” The Moon is called the Moon because it is used to measure the months.

When Is the Next New Moon?

Check out our Moon Phase Calendar or consult the table below to find out when the next new Moon will occur. The time refers to the moment when the Moon is 0% illuminated. (Note: Dates and times are according to Eastern time.)

New Moons in 2023

Month New Moon Date & Time
January Saturday, January 21, at 3:55 P.M.
February Monday, February 20, at 2:09 A.M.
March Tuesday, March 21, at 1:26 P.M.
April Thursday, April 20, at 12:15 A.M.
May Friday, May 19, at 11:55 A.M.
June Sunday, June 18, at 12:39 A.M.
July Monday, July 17, at 2:33 P.M.
August Wednesday, August 16, at 5:38 A.M.
September Thursday, September 14, at 9:40 P.M.
October Saturday, October 14, at 1:55 P.M.
November Monday, November 13, at 4:27 A.M.
December Tuesday, December 12, at 6:32 P.M.

When Does the New Moon Rise?

The new Moon always rises near sunrise! See our handy chart on “When Will the Moon Rise Tonight?”

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. See when the Moon will rise and set in your area!

The new Moon is also lit up from behind, showing us its dark side. It’s doubly invisible. New Moons generally can’t be seen with the naked eye. 

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. Learn why we call it the Quarter Moon rather than the Half Moon

New Moon Folklore

Here at The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the new Moon is strongly associated with Gardening by the Moon. According to this age-old practice, one should plant 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, the date of Easter is determined by the Moon’s phase and the second new Moon after the December solstice marks the Lunar New Year.

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.

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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.

Black Moons

When more than one full Moon occurs within a calendar month, we call this a Blue Moon. When the same happens with a new Moon, we instead call it a Black Moon! However, as with Blue Moons, there are a few different definitions. Read more about Black Moons here.

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).

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Aren’t crescent Moons beautiful? Who can resist?

Read more about crescent Moons in my article, “The Captivating Crescent Moon.”