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Catching the Rain

April 20, 2015

There’s quite a lineup in the western sky this evening. The Moon is joined by the evening star and the eye of the bull.

The Moon is the barest of crescents right now. And the tips of the crescent aim almost straight up, as though the Moon were forming a thin smile.

Folklore says that at such an angle, the Moon is ready to catch water, so it’s a sign that rain is on the way. There’s no direct link between the Moon’s appearance and the weather here on Earth, though. But there may be a coincidence between the two.

The angle of the crescent Moon is determined by the position of the Moon’s path across the sky. For much of the year, that path is tilted quite a bit shortly after sunset as seen from the United States and especially Europe, where much of our skylore originated. When that’s the case, then the Moon’s “cusps” are tilted as well.

At this time of year, though, that path arcs almost straight up into the sky in early evening, so the cusps also point almost straight up. And since spring tends to be a rainy time of year, that may have spurred the folklore about the crescent Moon catching rain.

In any event, catch the beautiful crescent Moon this evening. Venus, the brilliant “evening” star, stands directly above it, with Aldebaran, the eye of Taurus, to their left. And if you look shortly after sunset, you may also pick out the planet Mercury, glowing beneath them like a moderately bright star in the fading twilight.


Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2015

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