Rubber Duck Astronomy note: Wicked Waning Crescent Christmas Eve Morning

[Correction Edit] Moonrise 6:55 AM, Sunrise 7:10 AM, (New Moon today at 1:06PM).

First the facts: On Christmas Eve the sun will rise at 7:10 AM but more than an hour earlier, at 5:56 AM, the last wee bit of waning crescent moon (4.2%) will rise in the early twilight. More than an hour [15 minutes!] seems like plenty of time of time for this little upside down fingernail to get up there but it will be extremely thin and vanish before the sun rises. It’s a new moon (really should be called “no moon”) on Christmas so it’s going to be close.

But the weatherman seems to have been wrong about the clouds. They have already cleared out and cooler temps in the morning means clear skies. A quick peek at “The Photographer’s Ephemeris” shows that if one plants themselves on the end of the Pigeon Cove jetty it will rise behind Straitsmouth Lighthouse. If you are down on Eden Road it will rise between the Twin Lights.

What it looked like on Thursday. Pretty thin and that was 10.1% left. Can 4.2 % be photographed?

Rubber Duck Tip: You got suckered into freezing out there on the beach and it’s already 6:30 AM and no moon. Be patient and get your eyes dark adapted. And look around slowly. Look to the left and right but keep attention to your peripheral vision. That’s where your rods and cones in your eye have not been burnt out by watching sunsets and you’ll suddenly see the whisker of a moon. If there is morning haze she might be invisible but that is why a cold Christmas Eve morning helps out.

Joey Quick Tip: use a medium long prime lens and manually open to that highest aperture. 1.8 or less if you got it. If your lens will not focus point it at the furthest light you can see and press the shutter halfway then move to the moon and fire. Better yet, if your camera has manual focus, turn the auto off and focus on infinity. Don’t forget your tripod and don’t breathe.


  • HI, Paul. I really appreciate that you are following the moon and sharing this information with everyone. Just want to clarify that the exact time of the New Moon will be on Saturday, Dec. 24th at 1:06 pm. It is my intention to make a serious study of the moon as it’s movements and habits have long been a mystery to me – it just isn’t as predictable as our sun. Thanks also for all your inspired and inspiring shots! 😀


    • Shoot, you’re right, I said Christmas was the new moon when I should have said Christmas Eve. And so it is even weirder that one has a good chance of seeing the crescent on the morning of the 24th when it is 4.2% then the evening after Christmas on the 26th the moon is only at 2.0%.

      One could spend a lot of time just figuring out what the moon is doing this month. And none of that time is wasted.


  • Paul, thank you for your beautiful shot of the new moon. This was my mothers favorite, and I think of her each time I am aware of it…. a nice thing to do on a Christmas eve day.
    Happy Holiday’s
    Deborah Way


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