February 22, 2023
Planning Your 2023 Summer Vacation based on the Moon
Some of the most memorable times I've had on vacations have been seeing the Crescent Moon during a golden sunrise or sunset. I'm visiting a place I already think is magic, and that Crescent Moon makes it even more so.
For the average person, it's just luck that these Magic Moon Moments happen. But you can plan them in advance and organize your holidays anticipating these moments.
This post will help you plan your summer 2023 vacations from June to September. I've broken these Magic Moon Moments into three categories:
- Crescent Moon at Sunset
- Moonrise (Full Moon appearing large and reddish-orange)
- Crescent Moon at Sunrise
For each category, I'll provide the dates that you should plan to see them.
Crescent Moon at Sunset
Here's the dates to see the Crescent Moon shortly after the Sun sets:
- June 20 - 22
- July 19 - 21
- August 18 - 20
- September 17 - 19
The thin Crescent Moon will be visible in the Western sky, the same direction that the Sun sets. After watching the sunset, don't immediately pack up and head home: wait for about 30 minutes for the sky to get dark enough and spot the Moon.
The earlier the date, the thinner the Moon will be. For example, the Moon will appear thinner on June 20th than June 22nd.
The thinner the Moon, the lower on the horizon it will appear once it gets dark enough. It will be easier to spot the Crescent Moon if you have a wide, open view of the Western horizon.
This is an ideal moment to plan for if you're going to the West coast.
Since 2013, I've been doing an event in Montréal called "Moonrise", showing people the Full Moon as it first appears over the horizon. When the Moon shows up, it appears to look larger and reddish-orange.
Almost 10 years on, and each time I still find it thrilling. Definitely something you should plan for at least once on these dates:
- June 3 - 5
- July 2 - 4
- July 31 - August 2
- August 29 - September 1
The Moon will rise in the Eastern sky. During June and July, it will rise more towards the Southeast, but if you have a wide open view of the Eastern horizon, you should be OK.
Unlike the Crescent Moon at Sunset where you'll have some leeway with time, for Moonrise you want to see it at the exact minute it appears.
To do that, I recommend the TimeAndDate.com website. Use the search box at the top of that page for the location you'll be watching. Then, go to the date that you plan on seeing the Moonrise. Lastly, check the time under the column 'Moonrise'.
This is very accurate! It might need a minute to account for mountains in the distance, but be ready for it.
If you don't see it after a few minutes, the air might be humid and it needs a few more minutes to get high enough to be able to see it.
When the Moon first appears, it will look large and red/orange. As it gets higher, you'll see it appear smaller (this is just an optical illusion), and the Moon will eventually appear its regular white colour.
I recommend finding a spot in advance and arriving at least 15 minutes before the Moon rises. If there's other people around, tell them about what will happen and they'll think you're a magician.
The Moon rises later each night
The Moon rises on average 45 minutes later each night. The first dates I put above will have the Moon rise around the time the Sun sets.
For example, on June 3, the Moon rises at 8:39 PM in Montréal. The sky will still be light out when the Moon appears.
But the next night, June 4, the Moon rises at 9:55 PM. The Sun will have long set by that time and the sky will be dark.
This creates a different mood for each Moonrise. I personally find the Moonrise just a few minutes after the Sun sets a supremely magical moment.
You can watch this feature I made with CBC in spring 2022 all about Moonrise:
Crescent Moon at Sunrise
I'm not a morning person. Chances are I've seen the Crescent Moon at Sunrise after staying up way too late rather than getting up early.
But if you're a night owl or early riser, here's the dates to see the Crescent Moon at sunrise:
- June 13 - 15
- July 12 - 14
- August 11 - 13
- September 10 - 12
Similar to the Crescent Moon at Sunset, you'll need to be aware of the direction. For this, you'll want a clear view of the Eastern horizon. This is an ideal moment to plan for if you're going to the East coast.
You'll also want to spot the Moon at least 45 minutes before the Sun rises.
The later the date, the thinner the Moon will be. For example, the Moon will appear thinner on June 15th than June 13th.
The thinner the Moon, the lower on the horizon it will appear.
Perseides Meteor Shower
Another event to watch out for is the Perseides meteor shower. This will peak on August 12-13.
This will be a great year to see it as the Moon will be a thin crescent, making the meteors easier to spot. And if you stay up long enough, you can get a bonus and watch the Crescent Moon rise in the morning!
For beginners, I recommend using the free Stellarium Mobile app. You can adjust the date and time in the app and get a preview of what the sky will look like. When the day finally arrives and you're having trouble finding a thin crescent Moon, pull out the app and it'll show you which part of the sky to look at.
For more advanced users, such as people planning a precise photo, I recommend using PhotoPills. This isn't free and it's a bit clunky to use at first, but it's a fantastic app to get the precise direction of the Moon to plan your shot.