The question has been asked and answered about it being seen in the early morning, but it does not explain anything about 3:30 in the afternoon? could someone give me insight on this please!

  • $\begingroup$ Why not? The sun and the moon are always both close to the plane of the ecliptic and the moon can actually be between the sun and the Earth, in which case we are getting a solar eclipse. What can not happen is a full moon appearing right next to the sun during all times of the day. A full moon is always almost opposite to the sun in the sky, so the two bodies can only be visible together during dusk and dawn. $\endgroup$
    – CuriousOne
    Dec 30, 2014 at 21:26
  • $\begingroup$ I see it today too! The more remarkable thing where I am is being able to see the sun or moon at all; it has been rainy and dreary all month. $\endgroup$
    – rob
    Dec 30, 2014 at 21:28

1 Answer 1


Yes, it's possible.

Take a look at the diagram below. You're looking at the Earth from above the north pole. The yellow arrows indicate the direction of light coming from the Sun. The times on Earth show approximate local time; see how the Sun is most "direct" at noon but is below the horizon late in the night? (I think those times are most accurate during the equinoxes because it shows the Sun rising and setting around 6:00; it also ignores daylight savings time.) Finally, the numerous moon diagrams show what the phase of the moon would be if the moon were located as shown relative to the Earth and Sun.

A quick example to get comfortable with the diagram: If it's 9:00 PM, the Sun is not up in the sky (because the rays indicated by the yellow arrows don't reach that part of Earth). Now, the moon's phase could be anything depending on the particular day of the year, but if it were a first quarter, the moon would be above the horizon (and toward the west... that takes a bit of imagination). If instead the moon were a waning crescent, you won't see it at all because it'd be below the horizon (because a line drawn from the 9:00 PM part of Earth and the waning crescent passes through the Earth, so Earth is in the way).

enter image description here

Now back to your question. The diagram shows that if the moon were along the meridian at around 3:00 PM (okay, close enough to 3:30, yeah?) then the it's phase is a waxing crescent. And, being in the afternoon, the Sun is above the horizon.

This does not mean the moon must be along the meridian in order for you to see the sun and moon together. Some time later and some time before on that same day, you'll still see both.

Also, using the diagram one can determine that in order for the Sun and moon to be above the horizon at the same time, the moon must be between a third quarter and a first quarter (i.e., less than half full). Note that is a necessary but not sufficient condition.

Source: This link

  • $\begingroup$ Excellent diagram. Did you make it specifically to answer this question, or is there some reference to the source that I'm not seeing? $\endgroup$
    – Floris
    Dec 30, 2014 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't make the diagram; the source is at the bottom of my answer. I agree it's an excellent diagram, but probably needs a bit of explaining for those not used to visualizing Earth + Sun + moon diagrams. $\endgroup$
    – BMS
    Dec 30, 2014 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah... I see it now. $\endgroup$
    – Floris
    Dec 30, 2014 at 23:05
  • $\begingroup$ Nice answer, +1. $\endgroup$
    – Thriveth
    Dec 31, 2014 at 12:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.