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View from a Scope | June 23, 2017

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Earthshine

Earthshine

The winter mornings are a great time to spot Venus and Saturn, but it is also a great time to see Earthshine.

Earthshine is a soft, faint glow on the dark side of the moon caused by the reflection of sunlight from the Earth.
Specifically, Earthshine happens when the light from the sun is reflected from the Earth’s surface, to the moon, and then back to our eyes. Because of this double reflection of light, Earthshine is many, many times dimmer than the direct light of the sun on the moon.

Earthshine can be best seen during the crescent phases (the 1-5 day period before or after a New Moon). During this time the sun is mostly behind the moon from our perspective and bathing the Earth in a lot of direct light that is reflected onto the shadowed parts of the moon.

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