If you can find a clear view west at nightfall, take some to look for a whisper thin crescent moon, soft in the gloaming, close with Mars and the Pleiades.  (Here in Charlottesville I'll be out about 9:15 or so with binoculars... local moonset is 9:33.)

Think about the ancient observational astronomers.  So much depends (on the red wheel barrow glazed with rain, and) on a clear view west.  The moon tonight will only be about 4% illuminated, so a real observational challenge.  Tomorrow will be much easier -- a beautifully satisfying view, with the moon at about 9% illumination, close with the Hyades, Mars and the Pleiades.  Try for astronomical twilight (we're talking DARK DARK, not just DARK: technically when the sun is 18° below the horizon, the end of "astronomical twilight").  That's about 9:45 local time for us... and should be the same for all locations roughly in the middle of their time zones.  Tonight's moon will have set by then, but tomorrow's will still be closing on the distant rim.


This is a 27 hour old moon photographed by Laurent Laveder a brilliant fellow and a truly gifted photographer (http://www.laurentlaveder.com).  Tonight's moon will be 25 hours old.

Something from Wikipedia:  Traditionally, in the Islamic calendar, the first day of each month is the day (beginning at sunset) of the first sighting of the hilal (crescent moon) shortly after sunset. If the hilal is not observed immediately after the 29th day of a month (either because clouds block its view or because the western sky is still too bright when the moon sets), then the day that begins at that sunset is the 30th. Such a sighting has to be made by one or more trustworthy men testifying before a committee of Muslim leaders. Determining the most likely day that the hilal could be observed was a motivation for Muslim interest in astronomy, which put Islam in the forefront of that science for many centuries.

Clear skies, Van