Earthshine and Starry Sky

December 13, 2021

Earthshine Moon Venus And Antares Above Palazzolo Acreide - Unesco Site LD

Photographer: Dario Giannobile

Summary Author: Dario Giannobile

This image shows a spectacular alignment of stars and the moon above the city of Palazzolo Acreide, Italy. The area is an UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its beautiful Sicilian Baroque churches of San Sebastiano and St. Paul. Almost all of Sicily was shrouded in clouds except for a small portion above Palazzolo Acreide. This was the perfect opportunity to photograph the crescent Moon, sometimes also called the sickle Moon, in alignment with Venus (on the lower left with respect to the Moon) and the star Dschubba of the Scorpius constellation (just above Venus). The photo also features the star Antares that appears in the upper left corner.

Adding to the alignment of the stars, the peculiarity of the image lies in the splendor of the Moon. It appears to be illuminated by two distinct lights: one strong and bright and the other gentle and discreet. The first light - the one that illuminates the growing portion of the Moon - comes directly from the Sun and therefore is very intense to the point of dazzling its surface. The remaining part of the surface is illuminated in a blue-gray light by a phenomenon called Earthshine, which is light that reflects off the Earth toward the moon and is reflected back to us on Earth. Leonardo Da Vinci was the first person to recognize this phenomenon in the 1500’s. His understanding was that the Moon did not shine with its own light, but instead as a result of light from the Sun and to a lesser extent the Earth. Since then, this glow has also been called the Da Vinci glow. Photo taken October 9, 2021.

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