In the quiet hour before dawn, there are stirrings about the pond. Leaves fall silently past our window. The visiting flock of Ruddy Ducks, roused from their slumber, gather quietly in a round, restless formation, for what I imagine to be their morning head count. A crescent moon slowly tops the high ridge along the eastern shore. 
This is a “waning crescent moon,” photographed on October 25, 2011, at 6:23 am. Just seven percent of the disk is illuminated by the direct rays of the sun. The rest is faintly lit by reflected light from the Earth (known as "earthlight"), and appears as a lighter gray against a dark gray sky. Such a view of the moon is often referred to as “the new moon in the arms of the old.” 
Peering closely, I think I can just make out the fabled "maria" or seas in the soft gray area. As the moon climbed higher, that soft gray merged into the inky blackness of the night sky. On my screen I can also see a few stars, just visible as pinpricks.
The next two nights, October 26th and 27th, were host to a "dark moon," and the night after that, October 28th, a “waxing crescent moon”—similar to the "waning," but with the crescent on the right side of the orb. (As it turned out, the 26th and 27th were overcast, and no observation was possible.)
If you're interested, you can view the moon phases for any month and year at Moon Phases Calendar, and see an illustrated explanation at Understanding the Moon Phases. Both sites are clearly presented, and are excellent learning tools.

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