Astrophotography by Anthony Ayiomamitis

Lunar Image Gallery - Scenic Phenomenon

One of the most challenging and demanding observational and photographical projects one may undertake involves the new moon or, to be more specific, the very thin and young crescent immediately after the new moon. Such a project also has religious ramifications, for certain religions and cultures place a heavy emphasis on the citing of the new moon whereby it determines the start of the new (lunar) month which begins the following day and, in some instances, also establishes the end of holidays (ex. Ramadan).

The record for sighting the very young crescent moon with the aid of optics such as binoculars or a telescope is under 12 hours (see here) whereas the record for a sighting without any optical aid(s) is 14.5 to 15.5 hours (see here and here). Perhaps the best time to attempt such an exercise is during spring when both the sun and moon traverse the ecliptic in a nearly perpendicular manner relative to the horizon, thus allowing for the maximum possible elongation between them near sunset when the sun slowly begins to dip below the horizon and the young crescent moon is still above it in the western (or northwestern) sky. This hunt is further aided if the moon is around perigee. For two excellent online articles, the interested reader is referred to the Sky&Telescope website here and here.

Note: The very young lunar crescent illustrated below was captured near the grounds of The Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, Greece. With a new moon predicted for June 03 at 22:22 UT+3, the image below represents the moon's phase 23 hours and 17 minutes past new. Its distance of 358,710 km is quite close to the minimum distance the moon lies from the earth owing to its slightly eccentric orbit, thus making this crescent sliver crescent also a perigee young moon. The crescent moon was first located using binoculars when approximately ten degrees above the local horizon. Within minutes, the crescent sliver was placed at the prime focus of a Takahashi FSQ and where a stunning view of our closest celestial neighbour was observed over the course of 10-15 minutes. Focusing was aided by the presence of some cellular phone antennae immediately to the east of the setting moon.

Image Details
New Moon at Perigee
Imaging Details
Body:
Moon

Mass:
0.0123 x Earth

Mean Eq Diameter:
0.2719 x Earth

Distance:
358,710 km

Sidereal Rev:
27d 07h 43m 11s

Age:
00d 23h 17m

Phase:
01.6 %

Diameter:
33.54'

Magnitude:
-05.4

Rukl:
N/A
Date:
June 04, 2008
21:39:38 UT+3


Location:
Sounion, Greece
(37.6520 N, 24.0264 E)


Equipment:
Tak FSQ 106/f5
Canon EOS 300d


Exposures:
1 x 0.6 sec
ISO 800
RAW Image Format
3072x2048 image size
Manual Mode


Software:
Digital Photo Pro V1.6.1.0
Photoshop CS2


Processing:
RAW to 16-bit conv
Unsharp Masking
Resampling
JPG Compression