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The Moon is nowhere in sight the next couple of days. That’s because it’s new — it crosses between Earth and the Sun, so it’s hidden in the Sun’s glare. But coastal residents will definitely feel its presence. That’s because the Moon is closest to Earth for the year. The combination of the lunar phase and the Moon’s distance means that we’ll have some of the highest tides of the year.

The tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun. The Moon is closer to us, so its influence is greater. The tides are most extreme when Sun, Moon, and Earth are in good alignment. The gravity of the Sun and Moon pull along the same line then, so high tides are higher, and low tides are lower.

Not surprisingly, the gravitational pull of the Moon is strongest when the Moon is closer to us. Tonight, it’ll be about 17,000 miles closer than average. That happens just two hours before the Moon is new — creating more dramatic tides around the world.

Tonight’s Earth-Moon-Sun alignment isn’t perfect — the Moon will pass just south of the Sun. But the next new Moon alignment will be perfect. The Moon will pass directly in front of the Sun, creating a total solar eclipse. It’ll be visible from the United States, Mexico, and Canada. We’ll keep you posted.

For now, look for the Moon to return to view on Monday. It’ll be a very thin crescent quite low in the west as evening twilight fades away.

Tomorrow: the stern of a mighty ship.

Script by Damond Benningfield

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