Moon and Sun - bent light axis ?
Moon crescent not pointing to the Sun ? An observation by Bill Denheld


Like a torch shining on a ball,  we look at the moon during the day and see the 'crescent'  where the un-lit and sun lit area of the moon meet. Geometry allows to project an imaginary centre line from the crescent that should lead directly to the Sun, - the source of the light on the moon. However, every thing is not as it appears.

My observation has always surprised me by the this fact that the imaginary centre line through the moon 'crescent'
does not point directly to the sun.

Please observe this for yourself with great care. Warning, observers need to be extremely careful to check this phenomenon when looking towards the sun. Use very dark welding goggles, but still be super careful.

Don't risk your naked eyes.
Don't look at the sun.

It is hoped someone will be able to offer an explanation to this curious              phenomenon. ( Naively referred to as my ' bent axis theory ' ) The Sun shines directly onto the planets, the Earth and our Moon. From earth we can observe both moon and sun in the same sky, but usually at opposite points of the compass.

The images were taken at 12.40 pm 22 March in Melbourne Australia. 
I have noticed the same misalignments during other times of the year. I am sure the same phenomena occurs where ever the moon and the sun enter the same sky all over the world. I suspect the only differences maybe which side of the line?

Using a fish eye lens effect shows both the moon and the sun on the one image taking in approximately 140 degrees of sky. The moon was in front of me and the sun to my back while overhead -but slightly to my right. Later in the year when the sun is a lot lower, the same miss alignment occurs.

The camera was set on a tripod to follow the sky arc. Some eight standard digital camera images were stitched together using panorama Pixmaker stitched to form one image with both the Moon and the Sun scanning 140 degrees of sky on the one image. There was no manipulation or trick photography. Eight digital images, each having a portion of overlap with tree foliage to ensure continuity from one image to the next. In our case the complete image was printed on * paper that allowed me to draw on the projection lines. ( *reason for low quality images )

You will notice the projected moon line does not meet up with the sun.

The image (above right) shows a brick driveway and a tall brush fence looking South West. Through the tree foliage the moon was photographed first and then in succession - the next seven images to include the Sun 'back overhead' in the North East sky.  You will notice the trees at each end of the picture are pointing in towards each other. That's because the image should be viewed inside a hemisphere.

One close up 'moon image' in 'high resolution' (left image) and that portion can be seen in the full picture on the right. Please accept the line angles are hand drawn and indication what seems to be happening. The sun is shining through foliage in order to protect the camera, but the hot spot indicates exactly the Sun's true position in reference to the moon centre line. 

What ever the scientific name or explanation for this apparent miss alignment,
I can only consider that sunlight is actually bending.  

It would be most interesting to ask if this phenomenon also occurs in outer space?
An astronaut looking out from his spacecraft may see a truer alignment (more as we would expect by light coming from a hand torch lighting a small ball? 

Below is my rough sketch showing the Sun projecting light reaching the earth and the moon. It is curious to note this theoretical alignment does not actually take place for us to see? The observable Sun in our sky seems to be about 10 degrees off it's true position if the moon crescent is any indication.

My technical illustration teacher always said,- draw what you know,  not what you see .  I think he was right with this statement.

Take for instance, a ball in a box. If a drawn perspective of the box is correct, a sphere will fit inside the box touching at only six points at the exact centre of each of six square box sides.

A sphere in perspective is still seen as a circle, but a circular disc in perspective is seen as an 'ellipse' depending on the view angle. An ellipse has a minor and a major axis. The minor axis is the axle for a pair of parallel wheels. In our moon-sun case, the moon crescent represents a wheel with an axle, and at the other end - the Sun. ( also a wheel on an axis )

The only difference between our moon / sun example is the distance between the wheels, and the axis are always straight.
When viewing a 'Moon crescent', the laws of physics and geometry tells us ' just like wheels' at each end of a straight axle, the wheels must always be parallel to each other. Other wise we have a bent axis.

In our observed case, if the axis is not bent or curved, then the major ellipse axis are not parallel to each other?

Is there a bending light axis theory in the universe?
Is this proof that light is bending ?

This close up crescent is part of the full image below.

I have plotted the alignment of the Sun's rays to pass between the V's (above) and striking the moon crescent at the very centre. Assuming light travels in a straight line, this example shows about a * 4 degree miss alignment. ( *subject to error )

I am sure there will be a simple explanation when we hear from the experts?

Back ground to this webpage.

Early 2nd March 2006, via the internet I made contact with several astronomy departments in Australia. Clicking on 'Contact Us' window,  I personally asked for my question to be passed on to relevant Astro experts in the field. While I received several encouraging replies, it was suggested I should post my questions on a science forum like Dr Karl on the ABC. But because forums like this do not support pictures, I needed to create this webpage with pictures for people to be able to see what I was on about. For want of a better description, I titled it thus-
' Moon and Sun- bent light axis? Moon crescent not pointing to the Sun ? '

However, unbeknown to me on 8th March 2006 ( six days after I made contact) a question similar to mine was posted on the  ' Bad Astronomy and Universe Today forum '  BAUT

The forum thread  starter' used a more scientific title than my clumsy one above-
Why does the moon's terminator not appear orthogonal to the direction of the sun?      was posted by 'Clop' , a BAUT forum member from Adelaide Australia.

The timing of this thread posting may have been a pure co-incidence to my questions made six days before to several institutions in Australia?

However, thanks to thread starter 'Clop' and BAUT forum, we can now read how the best thinkers from all over the world view this
misalignment phenomena. To date there are more than 400 postings on this subject, thanks to all.

The question also has a thread at

but to find this forum thread you will have to go back into the topic titles at least four pages to find my
Moon and Sunlight - bent light axis theory?

At the above link there is also a similar thread called, - "Is this photo for real"
This thread covers a similar subject that I have responded to.

More to come


About the author,

Bill Denheld, is an Industrial designer, model maker, technical illustrator and company director of Denheld Industrial Design.  An interests in Australian history he is a researcher into Ned Kelly story that some believe is an Australian folk hero, but to others as a murderer criminal. Bill's keen eye has helped solve several 70 old year mysteries surrounding where the Kelly gang evolved in North East Victoria. Using the Sun to orientate early Police 'forensic' photos, Bill concluded the true site was not the where other historians believed it was, but quite nearby on the other side of a creek and now identified as where three policemen were killed by the Kelly gang in October of 1878. 

Australian history webpages
Ned Kelly research
Ned Kelly sites

Bill's work webpage