Sacred Texts  Age of Reason  Index 
XV. Astronomy Index
  Previous  Next 
Buy this Book at

The Da Vinci Notebooks at


p. 157


The moon has no light in itself; but so much of it as faces the sun is illuminated, and of that illumined portion we see so much as faces the earth. And the moon's night receives just as much light as is lent it by our waters as they reflect the image of the sun, which is mirrored in all those waters which are on the side towards the sun. The outside or surface of the waters forming the seas of the moon and of the seas of our globe is always ruffled little or much, or more or less--and this roughness causes an extension of the numberless images of the sun which are repeated in the ridges and hollows, the sides and fronts of the innumerable waves; that is to say in as many different spots on each wave as our eyes find different positions to view them from. This could not happen, if the aqueous sphere which covers a great part of the moon were uniformly spherical, for then the images of the sun would be one to each spectator, and its reflections would be separate and independent and its radiance would always appear circular; as is plainly to be seen in the gilt balls placed on the tops of high buildings. But if those gilt balls were rugged or composed of several little balls, like mulberries, which are a black fruit composed of minute round globules, then each portion of these little balls, when seen in the sun, would display to the eye the lustre resulting from the reflection of the sun, and thus, in one and the same body many tiny suns would be seen; and these often combine at a long distance and appear as one. The lustre of the new moon is brighter and stronger, than when the moon is full; and the reason of this is that the angle of incidence is more obtuse in the new than in the full moon, in which the angles [of incidence and reflection] are highly acute. The waves of the moon therefore mirror the sun in the hollows of the waves as well as on the ridges, and the sides remain in shadow. But at the sides

p. 158

of the moon the hollows of the waves do not catch the sunlight, but only their crests; and thus the images are fewer and more mixed up with the shadows in the hollows; and this intermingling of the shaded and illuminated spots comes to the eye with a mitigated splendour, so that the edges will be darker, because the curves of the sides of the waves are insufficient to reflect to the eye the rays that fall upon them. Now the new moon naturally reflects the solar rays more directly towards the eye from the

crests of the waves than from any other part, as is shown by the form of the moon, whose rays a strike the waves b and are reflected in the line b d, the eye being situated at d. This cannot happen at the full moon, when the solar rays, being in the west, fall on the extreme waters of the moon to the East from n to m, and are not reflected to the eye in the West, but are thrown back eastwards, with but slight deflection from the straight course of the solar ray; and thus the angle of incidence is very wide indeed.

The moon is an opaque and solid body and if, on the contrary, it were transparent, it would not receive the light of the sun.

The yellow or yolk of an egg remains in the middle of the albumen, without moving on either side; now it is either lighter or heavier than this albumen, or equal to it; if it is lighter, it ought to rise above all the albumen and stop in contact with the shell

p. 159

of the egg; and if it is heavier, it ought to sink, and if it is equal, it might just as well be at one of the ends, as in the middle or below [54].


The innumerable images of the solar rays reflected from the innumerable waves of the sea, as they fall upon those waves, are what cause us to see the very broad and continuous radiance on the surface of the sea.


159:469 48-64: Compare No. 861.

Next: 897.