As we head into the winter months, you may notice that you’re able to see the moon during the day, as well as at night.
The moon is always half-lit by the sun, but from the surface of the Earth, it doesn’t look that way.
That’s because the moon is constantly orbiting, getting further from the sun as it waxes to a full moon, then closer to it as it wanes to a new moon.
So why can we see the moon during the day? And can we only see it during the winter months?
Here is everything you need to know.
Why can we see the moon during the day in winter?
Actually, seeing the moon during the day isn’t exclusive to the winter months, and the phenomenon can be observed at any time of the year, if conditions are right.
It’s all to do with the cycle with which the moon orbits the Earth.
The moon rises in the east and sets in the west, as the Earth is rotating from anti-clockwise (or from west to east).
But the duration of the moon’s orbit contrasted against the 24 hours it takes for our planet to complete one full rotation means the moon rises about 50 minutes later each night, and sets later too.
Because of this, it’s regularly possible for the moon to both rise and set while a section of the globe is experiencing daylight hours.
When is the best time to see the moon during the day?
This phenomenon is most noticeable immediately following a full moon.
On the night of a full moon – which usually happens only once a month – the moon rises around sunset, shines all night long, and sets around sunrise the following morning.
The following night, the moon rises about 50 minutes after sunset and sets 50 minutes after sunrise the following morning; after that, it rises 50 minutes after sunrise, then 100 minutes… and so on.
With the moon still lingering in the sky come sunrise, and with it being more fully illuminated, it’s easy to spot.
When are the remaining full moons of 2020?
Of course, the moon is usually in the daytime sky at some point, but it’s much harder to see when it’s not much illuminated, and the closer it is to a ‘new' moon, the closer in the sky it will be to the sun, meaning it is often ‘drowned out’ by the sun’s glare in this stage.
The remaining full moons of 2020 fall on 30 November and 29 December; look out for moons in the morning sky in the days following these dates.
A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, the Scotsman