Whats with the moon?

I just got off work, and on my way to the car I looked up and saw the moon, which was behaving oddly.

Its a crescent right now, and you can certainly see the side of the moon brightly lit by the sun, but, unless my eyes are playing tricks, I am seeing the rest of the moon as well, albeit much dimmer.

Whats the dope on this dim part? Is the dark side of the moon being lit up by sunlight that reflects off of earth? Or is it some sort of optical illusion that makes me want to complete a circle?

I kinda think its earthlight, but if it is, this planet is a LOT brighter to the naked eye than I previously thought.

Yes. It’s called Earthshine.

*** Ponder

Yep, it’s called Earthshine. Purty, ain’t it?

Harumph, beaten by Ponderoid. :smiley:

The earth is over three times as reflective as the moon (it reflects 39% of sunlight as opposed to 12%). Consider how bright the full moon can appear, and that will give you some idea how much light the earth reflects.

Remarkable how little people in our urban society know of the sky at night. Supposedly, a majority of city-dwellers when asked in a survey say that you cannot see the moon in the daytime.

We have cameras at work that can see the dark part of the moon in lovely detail, it’s quite breathtaking.

Ha! No, you can sometimes see the moon in the daytime even here. It does attract a bit more attention, though, because it’s so often blocked by buildings even if it’s out early.

I was quite :rolleyes: at books that talked about “thousands upon thousands of stars” or “the countless stars of the heavens” when I was a kid though. I mean, really! Hyperbole much? Anyone could go out and count and see there were a couple dozen, tops! :smiley:

Although I’m sure lack of observation plays a large role, this could also be a result of pollution. When I was in high school (equivalent) in industrial northeast England, a friend of mine lived close to the blast furnaces of British Steel. Once he was visiting me out in the countryside, looked up during the daytime and saw the moon. He asked “What’s that doing there?” with honest surprise. Now this was someone very science oriented and extremely to have noticed anything astronomical. He just had never seen the daytime moon due to the levels of pollution where he spent most of his daytime hours.

Frankly, I thought it just showed the limitation of polling. Everyone knows you can see the moon in the daylight, but when you put the question on paper, people get stupid(er) for some reason.

[Carl Sagan]It’s billions and billions![/Carl Sagan]:smiley:

That reminds of a trip to California when we were driving through the Sierra Nevada one night, quite high up I guess, and noticed this long cloud running the whole length of the sky, like a plane’s con trail but wider and stretching from horizon to horizon. What the hell was it? We got out of the car and realised that it was the Milky Way. I had never seen it so clearly before, it was just stunning. Seen from England, it’s much fainter.

Some people want to bring the magic of the night sky back.

When I am king, I will support the fight against light pollution. Why can’t it be dark at night? I hope I can count on your support in November.

Hee-hee! I have almost the same story, except it involves me in Bali, walking backwards through a rice paddy, talking to my husband and just generally being blissful and spacey, and then turning around, shrieking and flailing like a spastic insect caught in a web. I totally thought that this bright band of…something…was spider webs or fabric or cotton candy spread across the rice paddy in front of me at eye level. Nope, it was the freakin’ Milky Way. Amazing.

I can only imagine what the locals thought of me doing St. Vitus’ Dance across a rice paddy.

This is my new favorite story.


Well, they likely can’t. They may or may not know whether people who live in other regions can, but the survey didn’t ask that, did it?

Given that you can often see the moon during the daytime from the middle of Toronto, or any other metropolis, I’m inclined to think this is just general stupidity, not anything particularly urban. Lots of people also think the phases of the moon are caused by the Earth’s shadow.

Certainly, city-dwellers who don’t get out much are routinely amazed by other things, though, like the Milky Way, which of course cannot be seen from a large city.

I actually fell down once when I climbed up out of the galley of a sailboat in the middle of the blue nowhere at night. It actually freaked me out a little - it was so big!

You don’t vote for kings!

Which is why kings never get elected! It’s because of people like you.

Vote early and often, that’s my motto.