Most of my life over the last twenty or thirty years has been divided between a small country town, with street lights, and a bit of land right out in a rural area, away from street lights; both in what is called the Mid North of South Australia.
From the table at the right we can see that full sunlight is about 600 million times as bright as starlight. Yet it is quite possible to see sufficiently well to walk along a road or path by starlight. The human eye is remarkably efficient in a huge range of light levels.
One of my neighbours (I have spoken to him several times but don't know the bloke's name) walks in the early morning carrying a torch (= USA flashlight). For many years I have believed that one sees less at night while using a torch than one does without. Of course, if you need to see some particular object, it is handy to be able to play some light on it, but if you keep a torch on all the time you see that small part of your surroundings that your light is playing on, and you miss the rest; especially everything beyond the range of your light – including the night sky.
One of the roads I sometimes walk at night
Astronomers don't like moonlight, it makes it very hard to see the dimmer objects in the night sky. If the moon is full most astronomers wouldn't bother looking through their telescopes any more than they would in daylight. Any more than a small crescent moon in the sky makes viewing difficult.
The full Moon rises at or about sunset and sets at or about sunrise.
Roughly speaking, the full Moon is in the part of the zodiac where the Sun is
six months later; that is, in the summer the Moon follows the same path through
the sky as does the winter Sun; in the winter it follows roughly the path of
the summer Sun.
Gibbous MoonThis is the Moon at a phase between full and quarter; it is so named because it has the shape of a rounded stone, a gibber. Obviously the amount of light from a gibbous Moon will be between that of a full and quarter Moon, and the times of rising and setting will also fit in between those.
This effect has been attributed to the very powdery surface of the Moon, and the reason for the difference in apparent surface brightness is due to the Moon showing 'preferential backscatter reflection' and connected to the anti-solar point where there are no shadows. (You might have observed the bright spot surrounding the shadow of the aeroplane that you have flown in; this is the anti-solar point for you at the time.)
Enough of that. The important point is that the a quarter Moon is considerably less than half as bright as a full Moon, but it is still quite bright enough to walk by, so long as it is reasonably high in the sky and you are not among trees, especially if they have a dense canopy.
The first quarter Moon rises about mid-day and sets about mid-night. The last quarter Moon rises about mid-night and sets about mid-day.
The waxing (growing larger) crescent Moon always sets within a few hours of sunset, the smaller the crescent the earlier it sets. Similarly the waning (growing smaller) crescent Moon always rises within a few hours of sunrise, the smaller the crescent the closer to sunrise it sets.
You may notice a glow in the sky, near where the Sun set, more confined and longer lasting than the twilight glow; this is the zodiacal light and is sunlight that is being scattered by dust in space. Of course both light scattered by the Earth's atmosphere and space dust can also be seen before sunrise.
Even when there is no Moon in the sky, the Sun is well below the horizon, and you are a long way from a city, there is some general glow from the sky. The night sky is not black, it is grey.
Venus is sometimes called the morning star or the evening star. It is always within 47° of the Sun and usually closer than that.
Man-made sky-glowMost of the people who will be reading this (that is, the people who have the wealth required to have access to the Internet and the leisure time to read stuff like this), will very likely be in, or close to, a city, and there will be considerable sky-glow from that city.
Sky-glow from a large city can often be seen from at least as far as one hundred kilometres.
Of course sky-glow from a city, while it makes it easier to see where you are going, obscures the less bright of the stars.
You could carry a torch and switch it on whenever a vehicle is approaching. I don't usually. In the dark it is obviously easy to see if a car approaching from in front has any chance of hitting you. Less obviously it is even easier to see if a car approaching from behind has any chance of hitting you; watch how your shadow moves as the car approaches; if your shadow moves off to the side the car is not going to hit you. If your shadow stays steady, right in front of you, the car is coming right at you!
When you walk at night, without using an artificial light, you will find that you use your ears more than usual.