Crescent Moon

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In the quiet hour before dawn, there are stirrings about the pond. Leaves fall silently past our window. The visiting flock of ruddy ducks, roused from their slumber, gather quietly in a round, restless formation, for what I imagine to be their morning head count. A crescent moon slowly tops the high ridge along the eastern shore.

This is a “waning crescent moon,” photographed on October 25th at 6:23 am. Just seven percent of the disk is illuminated by the direct rays of the sun. The rest is faintly lit by reflected light from earth’s day side, and appears as a lighter gray against a dark gray sky. Such a view of the moon is known as “the new moon in the arms of the old” (or in the case of a waxing crescent moon, “the old moon in the arms of the new.”)

Peering closely, I can just see the fabled maria or “seas” in the soft gray area. As the moon climbed higher, that soft gray merged into the inky blackness of the night sky. There were no stars visible when I took this photo.

The next two nights, October 26th and 27th, were host to a “dark moon,” and the night after that, October 28th, a “waxing crescent moon” — similar to the “waning,” but with the crescent on the right side of the orb. As it turned out, the 26th and 27th were overcast, and no observation was possible in any case.

(If interested, you can view the moon phases for any month and year at Moon Phase Calendar, and see an illustrated explanation at Understanding the Moon Phases.)

A neighbor tells me that Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, begins on the darkest night of October (on the western calendar). Also called Deepavali, it is among the greatest of Hindu festivals, and celebrates the new year on the lunar calendar.

You may notice a little pixelization at the tips of the crescent; that’s normal at this scale. If you click on the photo, a larger, cleaner image will appear.

Comments are welcome.

 

One Response to Crescent Moon*

  1. Dede Reade says:

    This is truly moving. Makes me want to get up more often during the night and dawn when I miss all this beauty! I think I’ll start setting my alarm clock….

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