IF THE sky's clear after sunset tonight (Thursday) you'll see a lovely crescent Moon hanging above the western horizon, as thin and sharp as a fingernail clipping. As it sinks towards the horizon, and the sky darkens, the dark unilluminated part of the disc will take on a subtle, lavendar-hued glow. Astronomers call this ‘Earthshine,’ because what we're seeing is sunlight reflecting off our own planet and lighting up the dark portion of the Moon. It's pretty to the naked eye, but stands out much more clearly in binoculars.

When the sky is dark enough to see stars, you'll notice the crescent Moon is shining between two groups of stars. To its left will be a ‘V’ pattern of stars, to its right a smaller, more concentrated knot of stars. These are the Hyades and Pleiades (or 7 Sisters) clusters respectively.

For a better view of the Moon come along to our next Moonwatch at the Brewery Arts Centre after sunset on Saturday (April 5). From 7.30pm we'll have our telescopes set up to show you its craters, mountains and seas in breathtaking detail. It's free and perfect for all the family, young and old.

Stuart Atkinson

Eddington Astronomical Society of Kendal