The best time to see a daytime moon is just after a full moon, when it’s big and bright and positioned relatively low above the western horizon. The full moon was this past Monday. The morning moons are now.
So why can you sometimes see the moon during the day?
The moon rises in the east and sets in the west just like everything else in the sky. Earth’s rotation from west to east causes this. The moon orbits Earth in the same direction, again from west to east.
If you watch the moon for a few nights in a row, you’ll notice that it’s at a slightly more easterly position in the sky each night as the moon grows or ‘waxes’ towards being a full moon, or shrinks or ‘wanes’ towards being a 0% illuminated new moon.
The moon also rises about 50 minutes later each day. That means it also sets about 50 minutes later in the west each day. So in the nights after a full moon, the moon rises increasingly later at night and sets increasingly later the next morning.
A full moon occurs when Earth is roughly between the sun and the moon. That’s why the moon is 100% illuminated (if Earth gets exactly between the two, it’s a lunar eclipse).
A full moon rises around sunset, shines all night long, and sets around sunrise the next morning. The following night after the full moon, the moon rises about 50 minutes after sunset and sets 50 minutes after sunrise the following morning. This begins the period of some daytime moons.
Two mornings after the full moon, it rises 100 minutes after sunrise, then 150 minutes and so on. You can see how the moon quickly becomes visible in the daytime sky.
So Saturday morning, shortly after sunrise, look west! You’ll see the moon shining against a beautiful blue sky. The moon will fade dramatically as the sun continues to rise before the moon sets at a little before 11 a.m.
The next full moon will be the “Flower Moon” on May 26 at 7:14 a.m., appearing full on both May 25 and 26.
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