Autumn has arrived in the UK, bringing with it falling leaves and lengthening nights. And with winter just around the corner, many may now notice they can see the Moon during the day – Express.co.uk explains why.
Why can we see the Moon during the day?
From the perspective of our planet, the Moon acts like everything else in the sky, meaning it rises in the east and sets in the west.
This is because Earth is constantly rotating from west to east while orbiting the Sun.
And just like our Solar System’s star, Earth’s natural satellite is also orbiting in the same direction.
Eagle-eyed amateur astronomers will notice how the Moon gradually shifts in the sky.
The Moon moves to an ever-more easterly position each night as it either waxes or wanes.
There are almost exactly 29.5 days between each Full Moon and the iridescent orb rises approximately 50 minutes later every night.
And as a result, the Moon consequently sets roughly 50 minutes later in the west each night.
This means, in the nights after a Full Moon, it rises and sets ever later.
Why Full Moons are followed by ‘Day Moons’:
Full Moons take place when our planet sits approximately between the Moon and the Sun, which explains why the Moon is fully illuminated.
A Full Moon is commonly thought to arrive during sunset and sets with the arrival of the Sun the next morning.
With the notable exception of Blue Moons, this is the only night of the month when a Full Moon properly appears in the east at twilight and sets in the west at twilight the following morning.
So it should come as no surprise when the night following such a Full Moon day, the Moon rises in the east 50 minutes after sunset and sets 50 minutes after sunrise the next morning.
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Then, the next morning finds the Moon rising a full 100 minutes after sunrise, meaning the Moon quickly becomes a cosmic body visible in the daytime.
The best bet to catch the Moon making a disconcerting appearance during the day is therefore just after a Full Moon.
The Moon will then – weather permitting – be both big, bright and positioned relatively low above the western horizon.
Interestingly, the Moon is hovering somewhere close to the horizon on most days.
However, the Moon is usually a little tricky to see because it is insufficiently illuminated most of the time.
Phases of the Moon:
Astronomers have devised eight distinct phases for the Moon, with each period lasting for approximately three-and-a-half days.
New Moon – rises at sunrise, sets at sunset
Waxing Crescent Moon
First Quarter Moon – rises at noon, sets at midnight
Waxing Gibbous Moon
Full Moon – rises at sunset, sets at sunrise
Waning Gibbous Moon
Third Quarter Moon – rises at midnight, sets at noon
Waning Crescent Moon
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