More Moon and Jupiter

StarDate: March 22, 2009

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This would be a good day to be standing on the Moon and looking back toward Earth, because our planet would look big and bright.

Earth as seen from the Moon is basically the opposite of the Moon as seen from Earth. Since the Moon is a thin crescent right now, Earth is just the opposite -- sunlight illuminates almost the entire hemisphere that faces the Moon.

Earth is a much bigger target than the Moon, and it's much more interesting to look at. It rotates faster than the Moon does, so over a 24-hour period you could see the entire planet. And during that time, you'd see big changes in the patterns of clouds that cover the planet.

And you wouldn't have to worry about Earth moving out of view. Since the same side of the Moon always faces Earth, our planet would always be in view from the lunar nearside. What's more, it would always remain in almost exactly the same spot in the sky.

The view would be especially nice from the Moon's nightside, with no harsh glare from the Sun. The lunar night wouldn't be completely dark, though, because of earthshine -- sunlight reflected off of Earth.

You can see the earthshine if you look for the Moon around dawn tomorrow. It's quite low in the east, with the brilliant planet Jupiter a little to its upper right.

The Sun lights up the bright crescent -- the lunar dayside. But the dark nightside is visible, too -- a ghostly apparition illuminated by the light of the Earth.

Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2009

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