Happy Summer: be cool, eat cool things; Wonderful time of Meditation !
THE THINNEST CRESCENT: Astrophotographer Thierry Legault is known for his razor-sharp images of spacecraft. This week, for a change of pace, he photographed a razor-sharp crescent:
"This image shows the tiny lunar crescent at the precise moment of the New Moon, in full daylight at 7h14min UTC on July 8 2013," says Legault. "It is the youngest possible crescent, the age of the Moon at this instant being exactly zero."
"From the shooting site in Elancourt, France, the angular separation between the Moon and the Sun was only 4.4° (nine solar diameters)," he continues. "At this very small separation, the crescent is extremely thin (a few arc seconds at maximum) and, above all, it is drowned in the solar glare, the blue sky being about 400 times brighter than the crescent itself in infrared and probably more than 1000 times brighter in visible light. In order to reduce the glare, the images have been taken at near-infrared wavelengths using a pierced screen placed just in front of the telescope to block direct sunlight."
Legault's photo may have theological as well as astronomical significance. In the Muslim world, the New Moon of July 8th and the sighting of the first crescent afterward sets the stage for the beginning of Ramadan 2013.