Earthshine, moonlight, stars and planets

We have been enjoying some warm, clear Indian summer days this week and with it has come clear nights. This past summer has been one of cloud, cloud and more cloud so viewing the night sky has not been an option.

The nights are drawing in here and daylight saving finishes this weekend so pulling the curtains is happening earlier. As I have been shutting the curtains I look into the western sky and I have spotted the crescent moon and with it two very bright objects.
I’ve checked and they are the planets Venus and Jupiter. The latter is fading fast and last night was not as shiny as it had been earlier in the week.

Jupiter from Voyager 1

When we came home from singing on Tuesday night I was able to gaze up at the sky at 9pm and see the familiar Southern Cross and all the other stars of our Milky Way. It is a comforting sight.

A fellow blogger Jo posted a very interesting piece earlier this week about Earthshine and that piqued my curiosity. The new moon has had this phenomenon occurring in our sky too this week and I have learnt a new word. Sunshine, moonlight, starlight are all old familiar terms but “Earthshine” has an enchanting ring to it.

Here is what Jo wrote about Earthshine and I would encourage you all to pop on over to her online magazine The Hazel Tree and read the interesting posts she writes as well we viewing the stunning photos she and her family take on their patch of earth.

“Earthshine is the faintly illuminated ‘dark’ part of the Moon, which is not lit directly by sunlight. Instead, it’s lit by reflected sunlight from the Earth.
The best time to observe Earthshine is when the Moon is a thin crescent, either while it’s new in the evening, or an old waning Moon at sunrise. For some reason that isn’t yet properly understood, it is much more noticeable during the months of April and May.
The phenomenon was first explained by Leonardo da Vinci in the first decade of the 16th century. Cloud cover on the Earth reflects more sunlight than land or sea, although snow and ice reflect up to 90% of sunlight back into space.
Earthshine is also known as ‘the Moon’s ashen glow’ or ‘the old Moon in the new Moon’s arms’.”


6 thoughts on “Earthshine, moonlight, stars and planets

  1. juliet

    The stars and planets seem brighter once the crisp autumn nights begin. Thanks for passing on about ‘earthshine’ – what an evocative word. And that’s a fabulous photo of Jupiter.

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      I just love the word “earthshine” Juliet. I’m glad you like it too. Sadly I did not take the photo of Jupiter but I did love the one I have chosen from Google Images.

  2. Jo Woolf

    Thank you for this, Lyn! Glad that you enjoyed it enough to share it. We had the most stunning view of the stars from a dark site in the Perthshire mountains yesterday – I bet the southern sky is equally amazing.

    1. ordinarygood Post author

      Hi Jo. I just love the word “earthshine”. It is totally new to me and reminds me that our planet shines out there just like the others do. The night sky is not something I know much about but I will give it more attention from now on. I imagine my view of the sky here is dimmed by urban light but we do have some super dark spots in New Zealand that are renowned for star-gazing. I’m glad you had great views and I think you posted that you had seen the Northern Lights – WOW!!!!


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