The Moon is Not an All Night Nightlight

Poets, songwriters and prose makers beware that if you don’t observe carefully enough, you might be taken to task for sloppy writing. In this case I’d like to call out songwriter Jason Mraz for his song “Shine”. There was a team of writers on this, so it might be Becky Gebhardt, Chaska Potter, Mona Tavakoli or Mai Bloomfield that could be responsible for the offending lyric. I will continue to mention only Jason Mraz when I mean the team.

Most of the song is fine enough but the overstretch is made in the line: “together they [the Sun and the Moon] would blanket the world with light”. This is simply not true.

Has Jason Mraz spent so little time outside at night that he thinks the Moon is always up at night? I on the other hand have spent time outside at night as an amateur astronomer and for deep sky viewing near the zodiac. I am glad when the moon isn’t out and blinding me to parts of the sky.

Just as the Sun is bad for viewing dim objects like the stars, the Moon is bad for viewing dimmer objects at night.

The only time the Moon is up all night is during the full Moon. Here it rises roughly when the sun sets and sets when the sun rises. This is why the Harvest Moon (a full Moon at the right time) in the early fall is such a blessing – farmers can spend all night harvesting their crops and they will still have the light of the Moon.

At the first quarter or 3rd quarter, the Moon is only up for about half the night. And at the new Moon it is only present on the day side of the sky. You might like those crescent shaped Moons. They are more likely to be up in the daylight sky.

Now had Jason Mraz said “together they [the Sun and stars] would blanket the world with light” he would be entirely correct. Unfortunately he could not rescue the rest of the song where the Sun does the shining and the Moon only reflects. That is because the stars also shine on their own as they are far away suns of their own. Sorry, Jason Mraz. You’re on your own. I can’t save this song.

About Larry Russwurm

Just another ranter on the Internet

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