The “Smile Moon” of Spring

As you spend more time observing the sky, and pay more attention to the cycles of the Sun and the Moon, you can begin to notice all the little variations that occur in the Sun and Moon over the span of the year.  One fun thing to notice in the springtime is how the waxing crescent Moon appears as a "smile" in the evening sky.

During the spring, the waxing Moon follows a very steep path through the sky as it draws away from the sunset each passing night.  The crescent Moon can be seen directly above the sunset.  Since the bright edge of the Moon always points in the general direction of the Sun, the crescent Moon appears to nearly lie on its side, looking like a "smile" in the evening sky.

In contrast, in the autumn, the "horns" of the crescent Moon of autumn are nearly vertical.  During that season, the Moon follows a very shallow path through the sky as draws away from the Sun.

My wife has always like to point out the "Smile Moon" to our kids every spring since they were little.  Try to notice this with your family this spring.  And be sure to notice the waxing crescent each month over the summer and into the fall, when it will be turned "sideways" from a smile!


Jay Ryan is the author of Signs & Seasons, an illustrated, Biblically-centered homeschool curriculum for Classical Astronomy. He is also the creator of the Classical Astronomy Update, an email astronomy newseltter especially for Christian homeschoolers.  Visit his website at ClassicalAstronomy.com.

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