Earth Shine and the Waxing Crescent Moon

Earth Shine and the Moon

The moon is once again making an appearance in the night sky. It is currently in the waxing crescent, and it’s a good opportunity to try and capture some earth-shine.

What is Earthshine?

Basically when you look at the moon, what you see is the light bouncing off the surface of the moon from the sun. Like the picture above, your eyes adjust to the brighter side of the moon and the rest looks black, but it really isn’t. There is another light source (much weaker) which is reflecting sunlight along with some of its own man-made light onto the moon, and that is the earth itself.

So, if you over-expose the moon, you get the shadowed side and, as you can see from the picture above, you can still see all the features (although much lower in contrast). The picture below is photoshopped to show the difference in the contrast of the various lunar surface topology. Earthshine is pretty weak so there isn’t a lot of contrast in the features.

Next, I decided to have a look at the impact craters at the moon’s horizon. As you can see, they are very high contrast area of the moon tonight.

Lastly, for experimentation, I tried to take a picture of Saturn with the infrared camera but I must have really kicked something because it didn’t come out quite like I expected…

Oh well… still looks cool.


About Graeme

Graeme is a traveler who enjoys photographing pretty much anything. He is also the webmaster for
This entry was posted in Astrophotography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Earth Shine and the Waxing Crescent Moon

  1. Julian says:

    Cool shots Graeme. Your explanation of “Earthshine” reminded me of when I found out what Albedo 0.39 meant. One of my favourite artists, Vangelis, released an album called Albedo 0.39 which is a brilliant album, but the piece Albedo 0.39 is a reading of facts about Planet Earth put to music, one of which is:

    Albedo: The reflecting power of a planet or other non-luminous body. A perfect relector would have an Albedo of 100%. The Earth’s Albedo is 39% or 0.39.

Leave a Reply