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Earthshine: the Moon shining in reflected light from the Earth

When the Moon appears as a thin crescent in the twilight skies of Earth it is often possible to see that the rest of the disc is also faintly glowing. This phenomenon is called earthshine. It is due to sunlight reflecting off the Earth and illuminating the lunar surface. After reflection from Earth the colours in the light, shown as a rainbow in this picture, are significantly changed. By observing earthshine astronomers can study the properties of light reflected from Earth as if it were an exoplanet and search for signs of life. The reflected light is also strongly polarised and studying the polarisation as well as the intensity at different colours allows for much more sensitive tests for the presence of life.

Credit:

ESO/L. Calçada

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About the Image

Id:eso1210c
Type:Artwork
Release date:29 February 2012, 19:00
Related releases:eso1210
Size:12000 x 7500 px

About the Object

Name:Moon
Type:• X - Illustrations

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