Moonlight Mystery: Why is the Moon visible during the day?
At J-Tech Solar, we hope your 2018 is looking up, to the Moon that is. The solar system is vast and mysterious but in this week’s blog we’re cracking the mystery of the Moon. Have you ever looked up and seen the Moon in the middle of the day? Here’s why that happens.
The Moon is Closer
When it comes to the vast world of outer space, the Moon is the closest object to planet Earth. To put it in perspective, the Moon is 238,900 miles away from Earth at its farthest point. The Sun is almost 93 MILLION miles away from Earth. Even though they look similar in size from our view here on planet Earth, the Sun is much much larger.
The Moon is Brighter
Since the Moon is close to us here on Earth, it looks brighter than the other stars, planets and celestial bodies. Even though those stars might be brighter, they’re located far far away-too far to be visible on a sunny day.
In short, the Moon’s appearance during the middle of the day depends on its rotation and how bright its light is. To clarify, the Moon doesn’t emit its own light, it reflects it. Lunar soil is not like the dirt here on Earth; soil on the Moon reflects light back toward the Sun. When it’s bright and clear outside, the Moon will be more visible. Only a fraction of the light that hits the Moon actually gets reflected back to Earth.
The Moon in its Phases
People tend to think that the Moon rises 180 degrees opposite of the Sun. In reality, that’s only true during a full moon. During the rest of the lunar phase, the Moon varies in degrees of separation from the Sun. The Moon goes through phases as it orbits the Earth. Scientists have discovered that it takes just under 30 days to complete a lunar cycle. Within that lunar cycle, there are eight distinct phases.
Whenever you see the Moon, whether it’s daytime or nighttime, it’s above the horizon. Most days, the Moon is above the horizon for 12 hours. It’s normal for some of those hours to overlap with daytime.
Mark your Calendar
If you’re looking to spot the Moon in the day sky, the good news is that it’s visible almost every day. The best chances to see the Moon and the Sun in the same sky are right after a full moon phase until just before a new moon. During a new moon phase, the Moon isn’t visible anywhere because the Moon is actually located between the Sun and the Earth. Just before a new moon, you’ll notice slivers of light in the sky. Major calendars often include the phases of the Moon each month.
A daytime moon is also known as a “children’s moon” because it’s said that young eyes can pick it out easier than people with worse vision. Make a resolution for you and your family to spend time studying the skies this year.