All About the New Moon

What is a New Moon?

The New Moon is the first phase of the moon and marks the start of a new lunar cycle. 

It happens when the moon is between the Sun and the Earth, and the three are aligned. During this time, the moon is near the Sun, rises and sets with it, and travels with the Sun during the day. Because of its proximity to the Sun, the part of the moon that is shadowed is facing towards the Earth, which is why it becomes invisible to us. While the new moon is invisible to the naked eye, it is visible with special equipment. 

The lunar cycle (the moon orbiting the Earth) lasts for about a month, or 29.5 days, which means that there is a New Moon once a month. 

During the new moon, the satellite is lit up from behind towards the Earth and completely invisible. After a couple of days, a slim crescent moon can be seen, and only after a week does the waxing Moon phase start when the moon is 50% illuminated.

The new moon is significant in many cultures, as it marks the beginning of each month in their calendars. The Hebrew, Chinese, and Hindu calendars are Lunisolar calendars, which means that the dates indicate the Moon phases and the time of the solar year. The Islamic calendar is a Lunar calendar, as it is based on the monthly cycles of the Moon's phases. 

New Moon Dates for 2021:

In the United States, the new moon will occur on the following dates:

  • January 12 at 11:00 P.M.
  • February 11 at 01:05 P.M.
  • March 13 at 04:21 A.M.
  • April 11 at 09:30 P.M. 
  • May 11 at 01:59 P.M.
  • June 10 at 05:52 A.M.
  • July 9 at 08:16 P.M.
  • August 8 at 08:50 A.M.
  • September 6 at 07:51 P.M.
  • October 6 at 06:05 A.M.
  • November 4 at 04:14 P.M.
  • December 4 at 01:43 A.M.

The Phases of the Moon

The phases of the moon illustrated.
The phases of the Moon are determined by how much of the sunlight illuminating the surface of the Moon we can see from Earth. On average, a lunar cycle, or synodic month, lasts for 29.53 days. The way in which we can observe the Moon in the sky varies according to the movements of its orbit around the Earth, and the Earth's orbit around the Sun.

There are four phases of the Moon: the new moon, first quarter, full moon, and the last quarter. Between each phase there are intermediate phases, in which the  Moon appears either crescent or gibbous. These phases last for around 7.38 days. 

The crescent and gibbous phases can be waxing or waning. When the moon is waxing it means it is growing in illumination, and when it is waning it means the illumination is decreasing. 

The duration between the new moon to the full moon, or vice versa, can go from 13 days to 15 days. 

The New Moon and Solar Eclipses

A solar eclipse.
Solar eclipses happen around two to three times a year, and only when there is a New Moon. For a solar eclipse to happen, the Sun, Moon, and Earth have to be perfectly aligned meaning that the Moon is closest to the ecliptic plane. 

During a solar eclipse, the Moon blocks the sunlight, causing the Earth to be completely shadowed during the day. 

In 2021 there are two solar eclipses: on June 10 and on December 4th. 

Facts About the New Moon

  • The new moon phase is the best one to observe other celestial objects such as planets, stars, galaxies, and meteor showers. This is because the nights are darker during the new moon. 
  • The Moon and its gravitational pull have influences over the tides. This force causes the oceans to bulge. When the Sun, Moon, and Earth are aligned, the gravitational pull is stronger, which is why the New Moon causes high tides.
  • Some farmers and gardeners base the planting of their crops around the moon phases, starting to plant the soil during the New Moon. 
  • Some people believe that the period during the new moon, when the Moon is waxing, is the best period to cut hair, for lusciousness and shine. 
  • In some cultures, the new moon signified a kind of rebirth. This is why many civilizations based their ceremonies and rituals around the appearance of the new moon. 
  • On July 20, 1969, the United States sent the first man to the moon.

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