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Astronomical question and answer 206


Frank L. Preuss


What should one expect at new moon?


The sky is overcast with clouds and the calendar says it is new moon.

With new moon the moon reaches a position, which comes closest to the line between earth and the sun in the course of one month. And after that it again moves away from this position. It is a theoretical event. The word itself already indicates it. The real day of the new moon is that day, on which one can see then, after that, the new, waxing, moon for the first time.

It is only so that the real new moon can also be the day of the theoretical new moon, and that is, when the moon really reaches very accurately the line between the earth and the moon and prevents the sight on the sun. Then a part of the sun is covered by the moon and that can only be a part, for the moon disc is, normally, smaller than the sun disc. Then one can also see the moon and the sun light is then not so strong that it prevents us from seeing the moon.

We then indeed see the moon, but only its outline, nothing of its surface. For that purpose the sunlight is much too strong and also the shine of the sun, which is reflected by earth and hits the moon, is much too little to have an effect. And this earth shine has then, at new moon, its maximum, since then, seen from the moon, it is full earth.

I have once observed such an eclipse of the sun and have then also written down what I have observed then and will now read through it again.

I want to see, whether I then paid attention to the one point of view, and that is, whether one can see the moon before the cover of the sun through the moon happens, or whether the moon can only then be perceived, when it prevents a part of the sun light to reach us.

And that is then also the question, whether with an eclipse of the sun only that part of the moon is seen, which area wise agrees with a part of the sun and whether one can then see the rest of the moon area or exactly not.

I have now looked out the report and read it. The date is 09.01.2001. Only that was no eclipse of the sun, but an eclipse of the moon. But the report is still interesting, because there it reads:

Now half of the moon is covered by shade. The diameter of the shade is still considerably larger than the diameter of the moon. That area of the moon, which is shaded, is now also seen, but quite weakly: the edge of the moon in the shaded area is weakly recognizable. The shaded area of the moon is not quite as dark as the dark background of the moon. It is complete night and a number of stars are seen – despite the many lights of the city. The sky now seems to be completely clear in all areas. The largest part of the moon is now shaded. The shaded part now stands out clearer against the completely dark background. It is a little brighter than the night sky surrounding it. It seems to be a little reddish. Now only a small part of the moon is still illuminated by the sun and the shaded part seems to still stand out clearer and to also become more reddish.

"During an eclipse, the moon does not vanish completely; some sunlight is bent or refracted on to its surface by the earth’s atmosphere, as shown in the diagram, so that the moon merely turns dim, often coppery colour until it passes out of the shadow again."



This is the end of "Astronomical question and answer 206"
To the German version of this chapter: Astronomische Frage und Antwort 206



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