Earthshine – NASA
There’s a unique kind of crescent moon in the sky tonight (May 24th,) and possibly the next two days as well.
It’s a crescent moon lit by Earthshine, also known as the “Da Vinci Glow” after the main man himself, who finally discovered what this common, yet difficult-to-explain phenomenon was.
Though the moon is just a crescent and should be covered by the shadow of the Earth, as the names suggest, it’s glowing via light reflecting off the face of the Earth, sometimes called “the old moon in the new moon’s arms” which is about 50-times brighter than a full moon.
This allows stargazers and star-crossed lovers alike to look up and see the whole moon like in the picture above.
In a rather textbook example of Da Vinci’s brilliance, his theory describing Earthshine was published before Copernicus revealed to the world that the Earth in fact revolved around the Sun, rather than the other way around.
Da Vinci instead used his artistic insights into the nature of light, and his engineering-level knowledge of geometry to ascertain where the ethereal glow around the moon came from.
“It’s easiest to see during either a waxing or waning crescent. You’ll need clear skies to see the Moon, but parts of the Earth need to be cloudy enough to reflect a fair amount of light onto the Moon,” Christine Shupla, science engagement manager at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, told CNN in an email.
MORE STARGAZING EVENTS: See 40 Shooting Stars Per Hour Under the Aquariid Meteor Shower in May Night Sky
There’s quite a lot of reporting on the possibility of Earthshine tonight and tomorrow in the news media, suggesting perhaps the chances are high. Try to keep it in mind when you’re taking out the trash after dinner!
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