Crescent Moon, Earthshine and The Seven Sisters

earthshine.jpgIf you have the chance to watch the sun set tonight (7:17pm), don’t look away after the green flash as the moon will be there too. Keep looking west and you will see a 6% crescent moon set against the dark blue of early evening. You will also see what is called the “Da Vinci glow” which is the “pale impression of the full Moon inside the vivid crescent.” More from NASA:

Five hundred years ago, Leonardo da Vinci was first to explain this phenomenon: it is Earthshine, the light of our own planet Earth illuminating the Moon’s dark terrain. A crescent moon with Earthshine is widely regarded as one of the prettiest sights in the heavens.

(Read more about The Da Vinci Glow.)

But this is just a rehearsal for tomorrow night. Click with me across the heavens…

Tomorrow night (April 8), the moon will be 12% crescent and will be side by side with the Pleiades just after sunset. The Pleiades are also known as the “Seven Sisters” and look like a little dipper. Here is a star map to help you see them tomorrow.
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NASA recommends using binoculars for a better view, but the Sisters and the moon in all its Earthshine glory will be visible to all. If it is cloudy, here is a close up of the Seven:

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“Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro’ the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid.”
from “Locksley Hall” by Alfred Tennyson

(The graphics and hubble image of the Pleiades are from NASA and therefore in the public domain. The photo of the crescent moon by Claude Schneider, taken May 19th 2007, is used under Creative Commons–Attribution 2.5 Generic.)

3 Replies to “Crescent Moon, Earthshine and The Seven Sisters”

  1. The Pleiades is probably my favorite open cluster. It’s sucks so much that the light pollution interferes with what we can see “up there”. Fortunately the Seven Sisters isn’t difficult to find if you know where to look. Thanks Julia!

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