For a few days before or after new moon the dark side of the moon is faintly visible. This is called earthshine or more picturesquely 'the old moon in the new moon's arms'. It is sunlight reflected off the earth and again of the dark side of the moon. Someone standing on the dark side would see an almost full earth. It is much brighter than moonlight on earth because the earth is not only bigger but the clouds reflect much more sunlight.

Moon and Mercury. 23rd March 2004, 46 hours after new moon.

Mercury is not usually well placed from this latitude. Never getting far from the sun a good horizon is needed to catch it before it sets

Moon and Venus 24th March 2004, 93 hours after new moon.

Venus gets much further from the sun and being so bright is unmistakeable. The earthshine was still clearly visible without optical aid, although using a pair of binoculars improved the view.

Moon and Mars 25th March 2004, 118 hours after new moon.

Mars is to the upper left of the moon. The star cluster to the right is the Pleiades or Seven Sisters. The waxing crescent is now so bright that the glare makes it difficult to see the earthshine without some optical aid.

Fuji Finepix S5000    Five images combined using Registax
Wiltshire, England

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