Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Moon

Have you ever come across someone who did not grasp a concept that you have understood since... as long as you can remember?
Recently, I discovered a friend knew there were phases to the moon, but could not understand that that meant the moon was not always in the sky at night. It’s true. Let me try to draw a picture.

(Okay, that’s what kind of drawing you get when you turn me loose with Microsoft’s ‘Paint’ for half an hour.)
I hope you can recognize the sun, Earth, and then four positions of the moon around the Earth. Each moon position shows what the moon would look like from Earth. So, when the Earth is ‘between’ the sun and the moon, we see a Full Moon; sunlight is reflected from the entire face that we see. When the moon is sitting roughly on the Earth’s orbit, we would see a Half Moon; sunlight is reflected from half the surface that faces Earth. When the moon is ‘between’ the sun and Earth, we see a New Moon; sunlight is reflected from the side we don’t see, and the side facing Earth is dark. We can all agree on that, right?
Now, to me, just looking at this picture makes it obvious that the New Moon is in the sky roughly the same time as the sun. Therefore, the moon is in the sky during the day, not at night.
You’ve seen the moon during the day, haven’t you? I’ve seen it many times.
But if you don’t want to believe me or this picture, here are some rising and setting moon times for Omaha NE I’ve looked up on the internet (Daylight Savings Time):
March 26, 2015      Half Moon, roughly      Rise 10:56 AM (morning)      Set 12:47 AM (after midnight)
April 4, 2015      Full Moon      Rise 7:18 PM      Set 6:08 AM
April 10, 2015      Half Moon, roughly      Rise 12:56 AM (after midnight)      Set 10:09 AM
April 18, 2015      New Moon      Rise 5:42 AM      Set 7:16 PM
Now, on April 18, 2015, in Omaha, the sun will rise at 6:40 AM and set at 8:07 PM, so, yes, the moon will be in the sky at roughly the same time as the sun.
So, if you are reading (or writing) a story, and in a scene set at 1:00 AM, the New Moon is not reflecting enough light to help the hero find his way down the alley... Of course it won’t. Not only is it a New Moon, and not reflecting light at the Earth, it’s not even in the sky at 1 AM! It’s on the opposite side of the world, appearing during daylight.

Any questions?

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