April 3rd, 2015


Sliver Moon LII: About Time Edition

Perhaps the only bright side (heh-heh) to the horrible, horrible weather we’ve had the last two months is that the sky was actually clear a fair amount of the time. I didn’t think it possible to get any more grey an gloomy than Seattle during the winter, but there seems to be a law in Ohio that sunlight is prohibited from directly striking the state between December 1 and March 1. The stargazing is so poor around here (throughout the year, and not just during the winter) that I stopped buying the astronomical calendar with all the moon phases and conjunctions and stuff, because why bother?

Yet this winter I often gazed up at a starry sky (whilst freezing my ass off). Unfortunately, none of those clear skies contained a sliver moon—until last week.

I was all excited to look for March 21st’s sliver moon: the spring equinox is the best time of the year to view evening sliver moons, and it was only one and a half days old—old enough to be visible for hours after sunset, but new enough be exceptionally slivery. The evening was perfect: the sky was crystal-clear but it wasn’t too cold to linger outside for a while after sunset (unlike most of February and March). And the moon was, indeed, exceptionally slivery.

The following evenings 2 1/2-day sliver moon was almost as good: though not nearly as slivery, it was parked only three or four degrees away from a blazing Venus, and moon and planet didn’t set until well after 10:00.

Here’s hoping our luck will hold and we can see another sliver moon soon! It was far too long, and if we have to suffer through Alaska’s winter, at least we should get to see a few sliver moons as a consolation prize.