Ever wonder what the Earth looks like from space? We’ve been lucky that we’ve been able to see the many incredible images of Earth from the Apollo space missions over the years, and they are no doubt awe-inspiring.
You might be surprised to learn that the if you were standing on the Moon, looking at the Earth, it would loom in the sky nearly 3.7 times larger than the Moon does for us here on Earth. The land masses, the oceans, and clouds here on Earth make it a much better reflector of sunlight as compared to the Moon. In fact, the Earth’s reflectivity varies as clouds, which appear far more brilliant than the land and seas, cover greater or lesser parts of the visible hemisphere. The result is that the Earth shines between 45 and 100 times more brightly than the Moon.
The Earth also goes through phases, just as the Moon does for us, although they are opposite from what we see from Earth. The term for this is called “complementary phases.” On Monday, February 8th, for example, we had a New Moon, but as seen from the Moon that day, you would have seen a brilliant full Earth.
Then later, as the sliver of a waxing crescent Moon began to appear in the western twilight sky, its entire globe could be glimpsed. Sunlight is responsible for the slender crescent, yet the remainder of the Moon appears to shine with a dim blush-gray tone. That part is not receiving sunlight, but shines by virtue of “Earthshine” or “Earthlight”– the nearly full Earth illuminating the otherwise dark lunar landscape.
Just a few more interesting facts about our wonderful planet, Earth!
To read more about Earthshine, click here.