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People are only just learning why you can sometimes see the Moon during the day

Poppy Bilderbeck

Published 
| Last updated 

People are only just learning why you can sometimes see the Moon during the day

Featured Image Credit: Oleksii Hlembotskyi/Getty /Oliver Gabor-Pajak / 500px/Getty

Here's why it's possible to see the Moon in the sky when it's daytime.

Depending on how much time you spend looking up at the sky, you may've noticed you can sometimes see the Moon.

The Moon? In the sky in daytime?! Yes, it sounds strange, but it's not a result of some real life Black Mirror episode or photoshop, there's an actual scientific explanation for it.

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'Post apocalyptic war lord' Stew Peters took to X to share an image of the Moon visible in the sky earlier this week.

The caption reads: "This full Moon is out in the middle of the day. That's not supposed to happen."

Well, turns out, it's not really 'not supposed to happen' and we don't all have to go and run around in a panic just yet.

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Have you ever seen the moon in daytime before? Credit: X/ @realstewpeters
Have you ever seen the moon in daytime before? Credit: X/ @realstewpeters

Planetary geologist and NASA scientist Sarah Noble explains that many people hold the misconception you can only see the Moon at night because it's often portrayed that way in books and movies.

"Even the weatherman uses the Sun as a symbol for day and the Moon for night," she says in a NASA video uploaded to YouTube.

However, that's not the case, the Moon actually spending 'almost as much as time in the daytime sky as the night'.

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And you can see it 'day or night' as long as it's in the right part of the sky? But how?

We're not in an episode of Black Mirror, there's a scientific reason don't worry. Credit: Getty Images/ Thilina Kaluthotage/NurPhoto
We're not in an episode of Black Mirror, there's a scientific reason don't worry. Credit: Getty Images/ Thilina Kaluthotage/NurPhoto

Basically, the reason we sometimes see the Moon in the daytime sky is all down to how close the Moon is to Earth, how it orbits around us and the phase of the Moon. Oh and the season and how clear the sky is on the day also play a role too.

Noble explains: "During a full Moon, the Moon is opposite the Sun in the sky. That's why we can see the full face of the Moon reflecting sunlight."

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However, 'as the Earth rotates,' the Moon only rises 'just as the Sun sets' on 'one day of the month'.

"In the days before a full Moon, if you look in the eastern sky, you can find the almost full Moon rising before the sun sets," Noble continues. "And the days after a full Moon, you can look in the western sky and find the Moon setting after the Sun has come up."

The Moon can appear brighter than the sky when reflecting the Sun's light. Credit: YouTube/ SciTech Daily
The Moon can appear brighter than the sky when reflecting the Sun's light. Credit: YouTube/ SciTech Daily

If you do want to be in with the chance of spotting the Moon in the daylight sky, you'll have to be quick about it.

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Noble notes she's made a 'game' of timing her daily bike ride to try and spot it, but it sets 'about 50 minutes later each day as it marches through its phases'.

She resolves: "So keep your eyes peeled."

Topics: Technology, Science, Space, Twitter, Viral, World News, NASA

Poppy Bilderbeck
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