Da Vinci Glow

Photo credit:  Forrest Boutin, Getty Images

Ever heard of a Da Vinci Glow?  I hadn’t… even with my dad’s interest is all thing astronomical!

It’s a real thing… It’s happens around sunset when a crescent moon is on the horizon, but the outline of a full moon is visible.  It’s called a DaVinci Glow because… wait for it… Leonardo was the one to hypothesize why it occurs.

The glow is caused by light reflecting off the Earth onto the moon.  Sounds weird, right.  Earthshine is light emitted by the Earth after the sun has gone down.  Because Earthshine is actually brighter than moonlight, the reflection “fills in” the crescent.

Although Da Vinci Glow is not rare, there are a few requirements.  It’s easier to see when there is a waxing or waning crescent during clear skies.  The fly in the ointment is that enough of the Earth needs to have cloud-cover to get the best view.  Apparently Earthshine is reflected more by the clouds of our planet than by the land or water. 

Since we have a waxing moon starting later this week, we’ll have the best chance of seeing the Da Vinci Glow this month!

Have you ever noticed this phenomenon?  Anything else in the night sky interest you these days?

36 thoughts on “Da Vinci Glow”

  1. The sight is familiar, though I never knew it by that name. I had some problems, though, with this paragraph:
    The glow is caused by light reflecting off the Earth onto the moon. Sounds weird, right. Earthshine is light emitted by the Earth after the sun has gone down. Because Earthshine is actually brighter than moonlight, the reflection “fills in” the crescent.

    The earthshine is emitted all the time, not just when the sun is below the horizon. It doesn’t always reflect in the direction of the moon.. I don’t understand the claim that earthshine is brighter than moonlight. That portion of earthshine that is sunlight caroming off the earth to faintly illuminate the dark portion of the moon becomes visible when it’s dark where the viewer is standing. The question is, why doesn’t earthshine always faintly illuminate the moon’s dark side? That, perhaps, is where cloud cover makes the difference.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are most probably right, Bill. The couple of articles that I read didn’t delve quite so deeply into the subject matter and I didn’t want to overwhelm anybody. I know that my forays into astronomy aren’t always everyone’s favorite topics.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I recall often seeing earthshine on the moon when well above the horizon, a factor, I believe, of living away from light pollution.
      Last week our two kids thanked us for raising them where they could see the aurora, fireflies, Lake Superior every day, lakes and woods, the Milky Way, deer and bear in our yard, bird migration over our house.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. While I don’t know the exact spot where you grew up, Clyde, nor the place where you lived and raised your kids (was is in the same location?), I do know it was near Two Harbors. I’d say that anywhere along the shore of Lake Superior, north or south, would be a great place to be a kid; you’d certainly be exposed to lots of what Mother Nature has to offer in all her fierce glory – especially in winter.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. I grew up 3 miles straight west of Two Harbors, on the back side of the ridge of hills that run along the north shore. My kids were raised 3 miles up the shoreline from Two Harbors in a house sitting about 75 yards back from Superior with a clear view of the breadth of the Lake. The shoreline is one of the major migration routes in North America. The moon rose right out of the Lake many nights right in front of us. Storms on the lake, thunderstorms over the Lake, a back yard to gather fireflies, lie down to watch birds in migration, watch the aurora, have many fires, use the playhouse I built them, run off into the trails in the woods behind us, use the iced toboggan run I built them some winters, go across to the private bay we had free use of with us their parents to even wade in the frigid water.

          Liked by 5 people

        2. I can only imagine the wonderful memories both you and your kids have of that place. When and why did you leave it? I suppose it had something to do with work or school.

          Liked by 1 person

    3. It occurs to me that Earth viewed from the moon at the same time as the Da Vinci glow effect would be mostly illuminated with a thin crescent of darkness at the top—the opposite of the moon’s illumination. You, the viewer on earth would be standing somewhere in that dark crescent.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    The Northern Lights have been spectacular this year. I cannot see them from my house, but the pictures of them are beautiful and eerie. Given our smoky, hazy skies, the sunsets have also been very red which is beautiful. But Canada can keep its wildfire smoke.

    Puppy Phoebe has been on a wild tear this morning. I am exhausted!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. It’s not a nighttime event but preparations are being made for the total eclipse of the sun, April 8, 2024. This part of Ohio right in the center of the path it will follow.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve been thinking about this as well, and I think it’s time for me to make my hotel reservation in Indianapolis. That’s the spot I’ve chosen because I have several friends there.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. In the olden days they called that “the old moon in the new moon’s arms” (or the other way around, depending on whether the moon was waxing or waning). Longer to say than “DaVinci Glow” but beautifully poetic. The new name is not at all poetic, more anthropocentric. My mom also used to say “the sun is drawing water” when the sunbeams would filter through the clouds in rays, which may not be as poetic, but is a rather striking image.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I went out late one of the nights that the northern lights were active. I got some iPhone video of it but I’m really not much of a photographer. It was amazing and I’m glad I went out there (way out on a tiny, skinny gravel road west of Big Woods State Park).

    I’ve seen the DaVinci glow many times but I wasn’t aware there was a name for it or how it happened. I always think of it happening during a quarter moon, waxing or waning, when the sky is very clear and there is no light pollution.

    I can hardly breathe outside right now. The air smells really bad, like burning garbage. I’m about 4 miles north of the Rice County landfill and I read that it was on fire last evening and that Hwy 3 was too smoky to see well. It doesn’t surprise me that “Mt. Trashmore” is on fire. It’s amazing to me that it hasn’t been closed. It was supposed to be full by now. I don’t know how they get around that. They’re just piling the trash higher and higher. Our poor Earth.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I’ve been fortunate enough to see the Northern Lights five or six times, that I can recall, and I find them mesmerizing. The more colorful and vibrant they are, the more they intrigue me. On a cloudless night in a really dark place, you can truly appreciate all the wonders of the night sky. Part of what fascinates me about the Northern Lights is the silence. Unlike thunder and lightning, there’s no sound to give them away.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. I know I’ve said before how I stand outside most nights.
    I like the name DaVinci Glow. Bill, sometimes you just gotta let it slide. 🙂

    I always enjoy seeing satellites crossing the sky at night. I was ‘up north’ with my sister and her in-laws when Skylab came down. That fascinated me.
    It’s fun to see the space station crossing, and didn’t we see the shuttle sometimes?
    Shooting stars. The occasional extremely bright flash in the sky, which was still probably a meteor, but so intense and bright!

    And the Aurora’s yeah… seen them several times. I love living in the country!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I have seen this, but now wish I’d paid more attention.

    I most loved seeing the night sky from mountainous Utah – where you could really see the whole mass of everything. I can identify a few constellations – IF I CAN SEE THEM…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw Carla Sciaki in concert at the Cedar Cultural Centre once, it must have been in 1992, and it was extraordinary. The rapport between her and her audience was almost palpable; they adored her, and it was obvious that she loved us right back. Her choice of material is uniquely suited to her voice and the gentle, sweet person that she is.

      Liked by 5 people

  9. OT – A young woman named Becca has moved in next door to a friend of mine here on the West Side of St. Paul. She is a former first grade teacher but has given up teaching to pursue her passion for cooking and developing recipes. Her recipes are mostly vegetarian, and from what I can see, she’s quite talented. Here’s a link to her website where you can peruse some of her work and sign up for her weekly newsletter:

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Don’t garden just wearing socks. I am suffering with a bone bruise on my right second toe from whacking my foot against a soaker hose stretched out on the driveway to relax its curls. My foot is purple and swollen. Nothing is broken. Don’t ask why I was trimming rose canes not wearing shoes.

    Liked by 3 people

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