Sliver of a Dying Moon

I tossed and turned most of last night, dreaming about missing the opportunity to observe nearly the last shred of the dying crescent moon.  I remember waking up at two o’clock, three o’clock and again at four o’clock, and struggling to return to sleep.  Getting up that early would not have helped me observe the moon, since it wouldn’t rise above the horizon until 4:46 a.m. Central.

My cell phone buzzed me with my alert at ten minutes to five o’clock.  I’d been staring up at the dark ceiling of my bedroom waiting for it to officially wake me up.  I grumbled my way down the stairs, with Apollo in tow, and greeted my husband and our new Rottweiler, Lexy.  I only took a moment to slip on my flip-flops, grab the camera gear, my purse and the van key. I drove a block and a half up the hill to the dead end in front of City Hall and just like I did two days ago, setup my tripod in the middle of the street.

Eastern Horizon Star Chart for 5:10 am Tues 17 July 2012
Eastern Horizon Star Chart for 5:10 am Tues 17 July 2012

I could clearly see the sliver of the waning crescent moon, just a few degrees (less than five degrees actually) above the eastern horizon.  The sky appeared to be only minimally hazed.  I began taking photos at 5:04 a.m. and tried various automatic settings and then revert to manually manipulating the shutter, aperture and finally the ISO, setting it to 800 (something I don’t like doing because it sacrifices pixels and detail for more light).  Here is the unaltered series of photos I took, stopping at 5:13 a.m. this morning (click the image to view rest of album):

Last Sliver of Old Moon
Waning Sliver of Old Moon (click for rest of album)

I may try again tomorrow morning, but I fear the twilight will wash out any chance of seeing the extremely thin crescent of a moon less than eighteen hours away from being reborn as a new moon.  Moon rise tomorrow morning occurs at 5:43 a.m. Central, but twilight begins at 4:15 a.m.  Sun rise will occur at 6:08 a.m. so I would have less than a half hour to spy an even thinner crescent moon amid the growing glare of the rising sun.

I also plan to attempt to capture the first sliver of the new moon on Thursday evening, but I don’t think I will be successful.  The sun sets at 8:42 p.m. and the moon sets at 8:50 p.m., just eight minutes later.  The new moon occurs near midnight (about a half hour before straight up midnight) during night the 18th (tomorrow).