THE next full moon is just a few days away, meaning our brains are about to be tricked again by the lesser known ‘moon illusion’.
Scientists say that when you see the moon looking really large as it rises in the sky your brain is actually playing a trick on you.
On August 15 you should be able to spot a full moon in the sky.
It is known as the Sturgeon Moon because it is around this time of year that lots of sturgeon fish are caught.
The Sturgeon Moon is going to seem very big as it rises in the sky but, as a video from AsapSCIENCE explains, in reality it will be the exact same size when it appears on the horizon as it will be when it’s high in the sky.
There are many theories surrounding why this is but the main theory is that when the moon is low on the horizon it can be compared to many earthly things, like buildings and trees, and this is why it seems huge.
However, in comparison to the vast sky it will seem small because there is nothing to compare it to.
This is similar to an effect known as the Ebbinghaus Illusion, which shows how objects of the same size can look bigger or smaller depending on what they are surrounded by.
According to the moon illusion theory, if you bend over and look through your legs at the full moon rising, it won’t seem as big because the objects surrounding it will no longer register as familiar because you’re upside down.
Low moons often also appear red or orange in colour because when a large full moon is seen low in the sky it is being viewed through a greater thickness of the Earth’s atmosphere.
Earth’s oxygen and nitrogen-rich atmosphere filters out the bluer wavelengths of white moonlight when the moon is close to the horizon as it rises.
This filtering process, known as light refraction, results in more of the red component of moonlight travelling directly into your eye.
Therefore the moon will appear red or orange to you.
The moon can only really appear to have turned pink during a total lunar eclipses, which is often referred to as a a Blood Moon.
The Moon – our closest neighbour explained
Here’s what you need to know…
- The Moon is a natural satellite – a space-faring body that orbits a planet
- It’s Earth’s only natural satellite, and is the fifth biggest in the Solar System
- The Moon measures 2,158 miles across, roughly 0.27 times the diameter of Earth
- Temperatures on the Moon range from minus 173 degrees Celcius to 260 degrees Celcius
- Experts assumed the Moon was another planet, until Nicolaus Copernicus outlined his theory about our Solar System in 1543
- It was eventually assigned to a “class” after Galileo discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter in 1610
- The Moon is believed to have formed around 4.51billion years ago
- The strength of its gravitational field is about a sixth of Earth’s gravity
- Earth and the Moon have “synchronous rotation”, which means we always see the same side of the Moon – hence the phrase “dark side of the Moon”
- The Moon’s surface is actually dark, but appears bright in the sky due to its reflective ground
- During a solar eclipse, the Moon covers the Sun almost completely. Both objects appear a similar size in the sky because the Sun is both 400 times larger and farther
- The first spacecraft to reach the Moon was in 1959, as part of the Soviet Union’s Lunar program
- The first manned orbital mission was Nasa’s Apollo 8 in 1968
- And the first manned lunar landing was in 1969, as part of the Apollo 11 mission
In other news, a huge black hole at the centre of our galaxy mysteriously ‘glows’ in an eerie video leaving scientists completely baffled.
We’ve rounded up some stunning pictures of this year’s Perseid meteor shower.
Are you hoping to catch a glimpse of the full moon? Let us know in the comments…
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