Where and when to see the moon
Just like the sun, the moon rises in the east and sets in the west.
The moon travels across the sky along a similar path to the sun, so if you know where to look for the sun, you know where to look for the moon.
At the start of a lunar cycle, the moon rises and sets with the sun, although you can’t see a new moon
because it isn’t illuminated by the sun.
A thin waxing crescent moon
is visible in the sky a few days into the lunar cycle. She’ll rise a little after sunrise and set a little after sunset.
The moon rises (and hence sets), on average, about 50 minutes later each day.
The graphic below illustrates what that means for where and when you can see the moon….
We can see that at the start of a lunar cycle the new moon
rises and sets with the sun. A waxing first quarter moo
n rises around midday and sets at around midnight. A full moon
rises around sunset and sets around sunrise. A waning last quarter
moon rises around midnight and sets around midday. And a waning crescent moon
rises in the early hours of the morning before sunrise and sets before noon.
If you know approximately what phase the moon is in, or how old it is, then you know where and when to look for it.
For example, if we are only one week into the lunar cycle (i.e. a first quarter moon), we know the moon is visible (assuming there are no clouds) after midday in the east and will travel across the sky until around midnight when it sets in the west.
We can also use this knowledge to be able to look at the moon in the sky and be able to tell whether it is waxing or waning.
For example, if we see a crescent moon in the east in the morning (i.e. a rising moon) we know it is waxing. Whereas, if we see a crescent moon in the west in the morning (i.e. setting) we know it is waning.