The moon illusion


We’ve all seen a full moon looming large shortly after it rises, when it’s still hugging the horizon. Scientists say that large moon is an illusion, a trick your brain is playing. It’s called the moon illusion. Its causes aren’t precisely known, but the video below above offers some explanation.

By the way, a large moon seen low in the sky might also appear red or orange in color. And that color is not an illusion. It’s a true physical effect, caused by the fact that – when the moon is low in the sky – you’re seeing it through a greater thickness of Earth’s atmosphere than when it’s overhead. The atmosphere filters out the bluer wavelengths of white moonlight (which is really reflected sunlight). Meanwhile, it allows the red component of moonlight to travel straight through to your eyes. So a low moon is likely to look red or orange to you.

Or course it looks especially beautiful against our own organ mountains. Go have a look tonight or tomorrow night as it rises over the mountains while the sun sets.


4 comments on “The moon illusion

  1. It’s so crazy how our mind plays tricks on us. I find it very weird that because my brain is telling me something i see it that way even though it may not be true. I have to agree with Daniel since we learned about the Moon i have been telling my friends about it and trying to figure out what phase it is in at any given night.


  2. I once saw a red moon when I was travelling across Texas, I’d always wondered what had caused it to appear red and just how rare it was. It’s nice to finally know why things appear different then how they actually are, the brain is one tricky organ.


  3. Ever since being taught about the moon I’ve been observing it closely trying to figure out where the sun is, what phase it’s in, and telling everyone about it. One more thing to add to the list!


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