Watch for a daytime morning moon
At top: Stefanie Bush caught a daytime moon in 2018 with an iPhone X, in the midst of anticrepuscular rays, over Lake Hollingsworth in Lakeland, Florida.
This week’s full supermoon came on the night of April 26-27, 2021, and by April 28 the moon is in a waning gibbous phase, rising later and later on successive nights. For the mainland United States, the April 28 moon rises in the southeast, roughly two to three hours after sunset. A later rising time, of course, means a later setting time. That’s why the coming mornings are a good time to catch a nearly full daytime moon over your western horizon after sunrise. Watch for it!
The moon is up in the daytime half of the time. But, because it’s pale against the blue sky, it’s not as noticeable during the day as at night. However, there are certain times of the month when the daytime moon is noticeable. Late April/early May 2021 presents one of those windows for catching a daytime moon.
Around the evening of April 28, the moon, and the nearby bright star Antares, rise at mid-to-late evening at mid-northern latitudes. See the chart below. From the Southern Hemisphere, the moon and Antares rise at early-to-mid evening. Because of Earth’s motion around the sun, Antares – like all the fixed stars – will rise about four minutes earlier each evening. Meanwhile, because of its own motion around Earth, the moon will be rising later and later each evening and thus moving away from Antares’ location in the sky.
Day by day, in the days ahead, the lighted portion of the waning gibbous moon will shrink. The half-lit last quarter moon will come on May 3, 2021.
Why is the daytime moon most noticeable now? The moon is up during the day half the time. It must be, since it orbits around the whole Earth once a month. A crescent moon is hard to see, though, because it’s so near the sun in the sky. At the vicinity of last quarter moon about a week from now, you might have to crane your neck, looking up, to notice it after sunrise.
The moon in late April/early May is noticeable simply because the moon is still showing us most of its lighted face; it appears large in our sky. Also, in the hours after sunrise, the moon is fairly near the western horizon, so people out and about might catch sight of it.
At mid-northern latitudes in North America, the moon will set about two hours after sunrise on April 29. It’ll set roughly one hour later after sunrise each day thereafter.
Bottom line: The moon is now in a waning gibbous phase. Beginning around April 29 – shortly after sunrise – you’ll see it floating pale and beautiful against a blue sky. Look west!