Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2023 February 28
Explanation: Why is a thin crescent moon never seen far from a horizon? Because the only geometry that gives a thin crescent lunar phase occurs when the Moon appears close to the Sun in the sky. The crescent is not caused by the shadow of the Earth, but by seeing only a small part of the Moon directly illuminated by the Sun. Moreover, the thickest part of the crescent always occurs in the direction of the Sun. In the evening, a thin crescent Moon will set shortly after the Sun and not be seen for the rest of the night. Alternatively, in the morning, a crescent Moon will rise shortly before the Sun after not being seen for most of the night. Pictured two weeks ago, a crescent moon was captured near the horizon, just before sunrise, far behind remnants of the ancient Temple of Poseidon in Greece.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC,
NASA Science Activation
& Michigan Tech. U.