The Moon, waxing poetic

By Phil Plait | October 22, 2011 7:00 am

Space Shuttle astronaut Ron Garan should be familiar to regular BA readers; I’ve featured a lot of the photos he’s taken from space here on the blog. He’s been posting more of them on Google+, and he just put up this gorgeous shot of the Moon over the limb of the Earth:

Spectacular! [Click to enlunanate.]

I thought at first the Moon was a day after full in this image. If the terminator — the line dividing day and night — is on the bottom, then the Moon was a day past full. But the bottom also looks a bit squished, which may be due to Earth’s atmosphere distorting the shape of the Moon. So it’s really hard to tell. Unfortunately Ron didn’t post the date of the picture, so I’m not sure of the exact phase.

But then, it doesn’t really matter. It’s close enough to full, and not being sure of the exact phase neither bugs me nor detracts from the amazing beauty of the picture he took as he sailed around the Earth on board the space station.

Related posts:

The Moon is flat!
A new day, from space
Moon over Afghanistan
A puzzling planet picture from the ISS (and make sure you read the followup post!)

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

Comments (14)

  1. Pete Jackson

    If you were on the Earth, you would be facing west, and have the rising sun behind you and the setting moon in front of you, with the western part of the moon (Mare Crisium, etc.) closest to the horizon. And, of course, you would be a day or so past full phase. So, the moon is actually waning poetic, not waxing

    On the space station, this is true also, except that things happen much faster (about 17 times faster); the rising and setting that is, not the moon’s phases which would still take a month to go through a cycle.

  2. Purdeeee

    also, nice show with NPR yesterday.

  3. Monkey

    That is FREAKING wonderful. I can only dream of waking/working/eating space food to that sight….for the simple luxury of seeing this the astronaut community is truly lucky. Truly lucky.

    Re: NPR – SciFri: I downloaded it today….excited to hear it while running tomorrow!


  4. If there are names for moon phases – like the “lemon slice moon” for gibbeous at a certain stage (click on my name for illustration of why that might be courtesy of Owen Christopher Wolter) – then this one would have to be the Yin-Yang symbol Moon! ūüėČ

  5. DiffractionMan

    We should add “The Terminator” to the list of terms that mean different things to scientists and the public.

    Beautiful Picture though.

  6. Messier Tidy Upper

    That white stuff on the world below
    Is it sand or salt or clouds or snow?

    (/doggrel mode off.)

    I can imagine it as being any and all of those things. Yeah, I’m sure its clouds but still.

    Great picture. :-)

    (Also imagines as start of clip where Star Wars type craft flies into frame.)

    {/stream of consciousness}

  7. Ahh, Pete beat me to the Waning poetic joke.

  8. MadSciKat =^..^=


    I’m not sure why, but this has me singing along with Cookie Monster in my head: “If Moon was cookie‚Ķ”

  9. MadSciKat =^..^=

    (oops, missed edit time so have to put this in another comment)

    “If Moon Was Cookie”

  10. Infinite123Lifer

    Waxing or waning, the challenge of naming
    Words for a process, with science’y framing
    Constantly checking, on words Iam obtaining
    Checking and checking, improve on my aiming
    Wise in its words, science entertaining
    Lost in translation, can keep one debating
    The power of words, can even cause feigning
    Words suggest this world, is up for some taming
    Those of us who try, can still end up maming
    The essence of words, partake’s in our training
    Moon is poetic, if waxing or waning

  11. This incredible image was taken by Ron Garan on 17 May 2011, which I believe was a full moon.

  12. John Moore

    How much of an affect does the moon have on the thickness of the atmosphere? Obviously if a perigee/apogee there would be a measurable difference…..

  13. Eclipse awaits observers in western North America, the PaciÔ¨Āc, and Asia on December 10th. And all of us can enjoy a rich variety of planetary sights in Dec 2011.


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar