Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Big Moon tonight!!

Sometimes you just can't believe your eyes. Tonight will be one of those times.

Tonight, Wednesday, June 18th, step outside at sunset and look around. You'll see a giant form rising in the east. At first glance it looks like the full Moon. It has craters and seas and the face of a man, but this "moon" is strangely inflated. It's huge! You've just experienced the Moon Illusion

There's no better time to see it. The full Moon of June 18th is a "solstice moon", coming only two days before the beginning of northern summer. This is significant because the sun and full Moon are like kids on a see-saw; when one is high, the other is low. This week's high solstice sun gives us a low, horizon-hugging Moon and a strong Moon Illusion.

Sky watchers have known for thousands of years that low-hanging moons look unnaturally big. At first, astronomers thought the atmosphere must be magnifying the Moon near the horizon, but cameras showed that is not the case. Moons on film are the same size regardless of elevation
. Apparently, only human beings see giant moons.

Are we crazy?

After all these years, scientists still aren't sure. When you look at the Moon, rays of moonlight converge and form an image about 0.15 mm wide on the retina in the back of your eye. High moons and low moons make the same sized spot, yet the brain insists one is bigger than the other. Go figure.

This is a very poor shot of one I took last year - maybe I'll do better this year!

For more detailed information, please check out NASA's site at

The website will tell you about what time the moon will be coming up wherever you might be! It's absolutely fascinating!

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