Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2008 April 11
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At first, he couldn't see the Moon
Credit & Copyright: Laurent Laveder ( / TWAN)

Explanation: At first, he couldn't see it, but searching with binoculars along a cloudy western horizon near sunset, photographer Laurent Laveder finally spotted a delicate lunar crescent. Captured in this dramatic picture on April 6th from Bretagne, France, the Moon was only 15 hours and 38 minutes old. Its slight, irregular, sunlit arc opens upward just above the dark cloud bank near picture center. Of course, a crescent Moon in the early evening sky is a lovely sight often enjoyed by many. But finding the Moon when its slim crescent is still less than about 24 hours past the New Moon phase requires careful timing and planning, a challenging project even for experienced observers. In this sighting, only about 0.8 percent of the Moon's disk appears illuminated. Laveder notes that this is the youngest Moon he has spotted in twenty years of skygazing and also offers this animation (Flash or gif) based on his images of the tantalizing celestial scene.

Tomorrow's picture: Yuri's night

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