why do we see the moon in the daytime
We get many comments from those who see the moon in the daytime. The comments tend to have an air of disbelief about them, typically going something like this:
I saw the moon in a blue sky. Why? How can this happen? I thought the moon was visible only at night! In fact, the moon is up in the daytime as often as at night. Itвs only the that that rises in the east as the sun is setting in the west and reigns in the sky all night long. That means the moon is up all night long only one night each month. Otherwise, the moon rises and sets on its own schedule, having nothing to do with sunrise or sunset, and varying in a systematic way throughout each month as the moon pursues its monthly orbit around Earth. If you want to understand more about the moonвs rising and setting times, and subsequent phases, check out this post: So when can you see the moon in the daytime? Basically, you need three things to see the daytime moon: Look within a week or so of the date of full moon. Before full moon, look for the daytime moon in the afternoon. After full moon, look for the daytime moon in the morning. Look up! The daytime moon is often up there, but itвs pale against the blue sky. At this writing (January 29, 2013), the moon is appearing in a phase in the morning sky, and it is indeed far enough from the sun to be visible in daylight as the photo above shows.
The last full moon was January 27, 2013 at 4:38 UTC. So if youвre reading this on January 29, you should be able to see a daytime moon in the west for another few days. If you begin to look at the sky a lot, youвll often see the daytime moon, too. Everyone loves to see the daytime moon. Itвs beautiful and serene, floating against the blue sky. Once, a reader in Kansas City wrote in with the name childrenвs moon to describe a moon visible during the day. She said this name stemmed from the idea that children canвt stay up at night late enough to see the moon when it appears only in darkness. That story prompted another reader to send in an alternate version for the origin of the name childrenвs moon. She wrote: I heard a daytime moon was called a вchildrenвs moonв because their eyes were sharp enough to pick it out, where the old folks, with fading vision, could not tell it from the clouds. Bottom line: You can see the moon during the day whenever itвs fairly large in phase and fairly far from the sun on the skyвs dome. So you need to know the date of full moon to know when to see a daytime moon. Learn the date of the next (or last) full moon, then start to look for the daytime moon about a week before full moon, in the afternoon sky. After full moon, look again for a week or so, this time in the morning sky.
Most important criterion: look up! If you do, youвll often see the moon in the day. On earth, we know that we have two bright objects in the sky: the sun and the moon. When the earth faces the sun during its rotation, the energy from the sun gives us light and heat. When the earth faces away from the sun it becomes dark and we see the moon in the sky. Every night we look up and see the familiar face of the man-in-the-moon as the brightest object. So what causes us to be able to see the moon during the day? The moon has an orbit around the earth and we can see it at night because of the reflection of the sunвs rays and energy that bounce back to the earth. This is what gives the moon the brilliant white glow. Itвs important to also remember that the earth has a rotation and an orbit around the sun. The relationship between the earth and the moon is kind of like a slow dance. The earth is tilted on an axis, all the while going around the sun and meanwhile, the moon is going around the earth. The light from the moon is bright enough to overpower the usual light that we see at particular times of the day. Most of the light that is visible to the human eye is in the blue color range and the moonвs reflected light, combined with its location gives us the chance to see it during certain daylight hours.
Due to the rotation of the moon around the earth, it is actually above our horizon for about twelve hours out of our twenty four hour day. We can only usually see the moon for about six hours during that time period, and then the bright light energy of the sun overpowers the reflection. There are times during the month when this pattern changes. When the moon is close to the вnew moonв cycle it is too close to the sun for us to see during the day and when it is nearing the вfull moonв cycle, it only becomes visible during the night. The best times to look at the moon during the daylight hours are during the first and last quarter of it cycle. That is when the moon is ninety degrees away from the sun. This is the perfect positioning of the moon during its cycle so that it isnвt too far or too close. Scientists and students that study the moon and its cycle know that, for the most part, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. However, due to the orbit of the moon it isnвt in the same place in the sky every day and night; it is actually moving in location. This means if you set up a telescope to see the moon one night and left it there to see it again the next night, you would notice that it had changed positions and you would have to adjust the telescope to see it.
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