Why can I see the moon during the day?

A few months ago, one of our many readers posed the question asking ‘Why is it that I can see the moon sometimes during the day? I thought the moon only came out at night?’


Dear Reader – terrific question.

Seeing the moon during the day can be a bit odd. A great way to visualize this is to remember that we are on a round ball orbiting around the sun. The moon, is also a round ball orbiting around the Earth. All the while, Earth itself…rotates.

It’s summer/fall season so lets imagine a summer/fall experiment. The next time you’re sitting around a campfire, hold whatever beverage you have you in your hand in front of you between you and the fire – you probably can’t read the label – it’s too dark! This is an example of a ‘New Moon’ when the Moon is between the sun and earth at such an angle that you could only tell it was there if only it passed in front of the sun itself (that’s an eclipse, we’ll get to that in another blog).

If you hold your beverage off to your side, you’ll be able to read just a portion of the label, the portion of the label that is facing the fire that you can also see because that beverage is in a rounded container. This would be an example of a first quarter or third quarter moon.

Lastly, if you turn around and hold the beverage behind you using the fire to illuminate it, you can clearly read the entire label – this being a Full Moon.

Now that you’ve just spun around in circles while drinking around a fire…what does this all mean!?!?

When you had the can off to your side, you could still easily see the fire AND the reflecting light from the fire off the can at the same time. Such is the moon during the day. At times the Moon’s orbit is positioned in a way that still puts it in the ‘daytime sky’ but is at an angle that also can reflect light back down to Earth from the sun. Here’s an illustration I stole from http://www.UniverseToday.com to help explain..


The sun (our campfire) is off to the right of this image, the Moon is your beverage, and you are the Earth. The little images of the Moon are what it would look like to YOU the viewer up in the sky, not to scale of this illustration (my only complaint with it). If it ever gets below 85 degrees at night again I’ll try my campfire analogy for myself and  get a few pictures for ‘evidence.’ It might take a six-pack of tries, but I’ll get it eventually.




Coffee, Shaken not Stirred.

You know you are a nerd when you check the earthquakes each morning over the last 24 hours. Coffee and clicking for, “only a few minutes”.

My first site… http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/map/

This one is like an old friend. Simple to use and pretty quick…Below is an image from today (6/16/2016 at 8:56 AM or 12:56 UTC))

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Your eyes take you right to the fault lines and the quakes along those lines…Except for our friends in Okahoma…(Oh, here he goes again…)




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Oklahoma and Texas just today





My second site… http://geosurvey.ohiodnr.gov/earthquakes-ohioseis/seismic-station-data

I go to this one if there was a large quake (over 6.0) on our half of the earth, or any quake close to home. Once this site opens I click on the BGSO Bowling Green station…It is the closest station online. One day our LCHO station will be online and I can see what was skaken in my yard.Ecuador 5-18-2016



Here is a nice one from BGSO. Remember this station is in Bowling Green, Ohio. It shows two quakes in Ecuador on 5-18-2016

My new site…http://rev.seis.sc.edu/earthquakes.html?view=world

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Still figuring this one out. It has fascinating displays that show you what the area stations pick up. The more you play with this one, the more you learn. You also learn just how small this planet is.

Need more coffee.


Sunrise, Sunrise….Sunset, Sunset…wait….whaaaaat?

We must remind ourselves that the earth is a sphere. Yes, we all “know” that…But when is the last time you actually SAW that?

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Pirates of the Caribbean; At World’s End – Up is Down Scene

Our sunrise is someone’s sunset and, if you are quick enough, you can catch TWO in one day.

Want more background on this subject? (Be patient, I got the idea near the end…Around 5:00)

Get it?

Here we go…First, I need a clear horizon to watch a sunrise or sunset…




Joseph’s place in Avon Lake….Perfect!

Next, plan for a sunrise and get ready to move QUICK!

Take a pic as soon as the sun emerges, drop to the ground and take a second pic….

IF I AM FAST ENOUGH, I should catch TWO sunrises….

Um, yeah….there is a problem with that last step.


So, standing on a cliff on lake Erie at “sunrise”… First rays of the sun. (See the leaves of the trees above?)


I “drop” (more of a stumble) to the gound to take the second image. (See weed shadow in lower left.) Not easy or fast for me….Possibly 3 seconds or more…way too slooooow.

Looks the same right? Look again….

Sunrise Twice

Standing on the left and ground level on the right. Yes, there is MORE sun in the right image. I missed the shadow at eye level. BUT! Look at the color of the water…..It looks like water level is still in the dark, waiting for “sunrise”.

I would need to jump off the cliff (over 30 feet) and take the second picture as soon as I hit the water(or rocks)….I love science, but NOT that much!

The day moves on…The great city of Cleveland in the distance…


(Taken with binoculars, at sunset.) I should be able to see the earth’s shadow as it passes up the Key Tower(tall “gold” building)….Right? Sadly, No…

But! I did get this!…


See it? There is a darker layer above the horizon, below the pink layer, and the clouds. That is the shadow of the earth at sunset. This is actually pretty common. You just need to know what to look for and when. Want a confirmation?

Earth Shadow I


Had fun with this one. That’s why I do it!





Light! Right Between My Eyes!


One of our “Many” readers had a question on this plant growth at day vs night story..

See: “Plants Grow Faster at Night.”

So off I went to clear things up….OUCH!…I took a hit right between the eyes…BUT…I did not fall!

First, to get a “crash course” in photosynthesis follow these videos…

Crash Course Biology Photosynthesis # 8 Hank Green

A little childish, heavy on the chemistry but certainly not boring…


Photosynthesis: Light reaction, Calvin cycle, Electron Transport [3D Animation]

Great animation, narrator’s voice is sweet and could put you to sleep, but explained well. Don’t drown in the terms.


Photosynthesis Boseman Science by Paul Anderson

Best of the three, even though Mr. Anderson got in a couple of good shots….At one point he said, “The dark reaction [Calvin Cycle] is a silly term, because it only happens in the light.”


But plants grow FASTER in the DARK!

No, Mike…they only LOOK like they are growing faster…


“While rapid cell elongation causes plants to appear longer, it is not actually growth. The process is more comparable to stretching. Plant cells mostly expand upward when exposed to total darkness, because that is generally where they can access light; this process is known as geotropisim. Green plants require photosynthesis in order to experience actual growth; plants left in total darkness for an extended period of time eventually die.”


But “APPEAR LONGER” and “STRETCHING” is not “GROWING”?   Grrrrrrr.


“Plant growth is driven by photosynthetic carbon fixation during the day. Some photosynthate is accumulated, often as starch, to support nocturnal metabolism and growth at night. The rate of starch degradation in Arabidopsis leaves at night is essentially linear, and is such that almost all of the starch is used by dawn……..Thus, starch degradation is under circadian control to ensure that carbohydrate availability is maintained until the next anticipated dawn, and this control is necessary for maintaining plant productivity.”

My take on this last quote is this….Starch is used to make cellulose to make the cell wall to ELONGATE the cells which looks like “GROWING” but is actually reaching out in panic searching for the light.

I need to stop but I wanted to get this out to “Mad Scientist Juls”. This post is not pretty and is riddled with errors…but I did have fun getting schooled.




Transit of Mercury

Yesterday was cloudy and rain….Figures…

But in Cleveland, Joseph took and extra long coffee break and stared at the sun. (YES, HE USED A SOLAR FILTER!)13177577_10103895544529454_4524288580267871048_n

I wonder how many coworkers are watching this crazy man in the parking lot?

His patience paid off…He caught this…


Tiny black dot towards the lower right is Mercury as it passed in front of the sun.

Look close, you will see fuzzy dots a little left and below the center. = Sun spots!

Want to see more? Click the link below this image.

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BBC News

Hope to see it in 2019!