Moon Daytime

This Is Why You Are Seeing the Moon During the Day

It's actually normal for the moon to be out during the day, however, its visibility changes based on its cycle.

Eva Hagan - Author

Mar. 9 2023, Published 10:29 a.m. ET

Although it's currently daytime, the moon is fixed in the sky. It's the symbol of night, but it never seems to go away. During the day it is overpowered by the sun and hides in the likeness of the sky, but it's still there.

In the evening the sun falls and fades to sleep, and the moon appears like a dream. So, why is the moon out during the day?

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Source: Getty Images

The moon stays out during the day because it's always in the sky somewhere.

According to NASA, the moon, and the stars are actually always present during the day, we just often can't see them because of the intense sunlight.

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The moon's phases determine how much of the moon we will see during the night, and also during the day. During a full moon, it is directly opposite the sun, making it the most visible daytime moon. During the new moon, however, the moon is fixed in between the Earth and the sun, meaning the sunlit side is facing away from us (towards the sun) and makes the moon much harder to pick out in the sky.

The moon's phases include: new moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, third quarter, and waning crescent. A waxing moon is increasing in visibility, whereas a waning moon is decreasing.

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The phases of the moon
Source: Getty Images

As the moon's cycle continues, it moves away from the sun and around the Earth, gradually becoming more visible and eventually a full moon again, per The Washington Post.

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When is the best time to see a daytime moon?

According to NASA, the best time for daytime moon viewing is during the first and last quarter phases. This is because the moon will be high enough above the horizon and almost exactly 90 degrees from the sun. At this angle, the sun's reflected light will be able to reflect off the moon, making it the most visible.

The moon alongside Earth
Source: Getty Images
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Even though the moon rotates, you probably always see the same side.

The moon's rotation is not consistent in speed, sometimes moving faster or slower depending on where it is in the cycle. For example, when it is the closest to Earth, and moving at a slower pace, we are viewing much of the eastern side of the moon. When it's farther and rotating faster, we see more of the western side.

Moon over mountains
Source: Getty Images
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However, you may notice that you always feel like you are looking at the same side of the moon. You can probably picture it in your head right now even. As the moon rotates, its revolution around Earth is at a matching pace, therefore we pretty much see the same side illuminated every time. When the side we don't see is illuminated, that is the new moon, per NASA.

On NASA's website, they have an interactive moon phase page where you can see where the moon is in the cycle and orbit right now. So, the next time you are looking to get a great view, just check to make sure it's not a full moon.

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