Friday, June 4, 2010

Summer illusion brings moon closer

During the summer, the moon plays an optical trick known as the Moon Illusion. As it rises in the east, it always appears larger and closer to us. Because the sun is so high, the moon has to hang low, as they are on opposite sides of the sky. Photo, below, by NASA.

Especially during the full moon cycle, the low-hanging moon appears huge. Cameras don't see the illusion, but our eyes do. NASA Science describes it this way: When you look at the moon, rays of moonlight converge and form an image about 0.15 mm wide in the back of your eye. High moons and low moons make the same sized spot. So why does your brain think one is bigger than the other? After all these years, scientists still aren't sure why. Read more about the Moon Illusion.

On June 4 and 5, the moon will also sound closer at Emory, when OurSong: The Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chorus performs "Lunar Essence" at Cannon Chapel.

The concert celebrates the dark of the night during the brightest part of the year with music that uses stark imagery of the moon and how it affects the Earth. Selections range from the ever-popular "Moon River," to a song by New Zealand composer David Childs based on the Emily Dickinson poem "The Moon is Distant from the Sea." Tickets are $20 for the concert, which begins at 8 p.m.

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