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 sun’s rays and energy that bounce back to the earth. This is what gives the moon the brilliant white glow. It’s 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 moon’s 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 ‘new moon’ cycle it is too close to the sun for us to see during the day and when it is nearing the ‘full moon’ 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 isn’t 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 isn’t 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.