Tonight Will Be the Darkest of 2017 Thanks to December's New Moon

Dark times are ahead.

Flickr / DrPhotoMoto

If you’re scared of the dark, tonight might be the time to break out your nightlight. Monday will be the darkest night of 2017 for a few reasons.

December 18 marks the final new moon of the year, and it’s coming only days before the winter solstice, which marks the shortest day of the year, every year.

A “new moon” refers to the lunar phase that is invisible to us here on Earth, because the moon is between the Earth and the sun. This means that its illuminated side is facing away from us and thus, dark to observers.

Of course, new moons happen all the time — they’re far from unique. In fact, they mark the beginning of the lunar cycle. But what makes this new moon special is its proximity to the winter solstice — when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted furthest from the sun — on December 21. This is the day with the least amount of sunlight and the longest night of the whole year.

Flickr / DrPhotoMoto

This seasonal occurrence is happening just three days after the third new moon of this year. So tonight will already be pretty long, and the absence of moonlight will make it as pitch black as a night can get. Who says spookiness is only limited to October?

Consider this the perfect time to go stargazing with your fellow astronomy-loving buddies — or ghost hunting? But don’t bother taking pictures, because it’s gonna be reaaaally dark. That’d just be a bad idea.

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