Wow, check out the giant full moon rising

Illustration for article titled Wow, check out the giant full moon rising

Some may call it the Honey Moon now but, according to NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day, June's full moon is traditionally called Strawberry Moon in North America because of the harvesting of the strawberries. This incredible photo by astrophotographer Göran Strand shows a full moon pink and gigantic over Sweden.


NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day gives the explanation of why it looks so incredibly large:

The Moon looks large in the image because the scene was captured with a long focal length lens from a place about 8 kilometers from the foreground houses. But just by eye a Full Moon rising, even on Friday the 13th, will appear to loom impossibly large near the horizon. That effect has long been recognized as the Moon Illusion. Unlike the magnification provided by a telescope or telephoto lens, the cause of the Moon illusion is still poorly understood and not explained by atmospheric optical effects, such as scattering and refraction, that produce the Moon's blushing color and ragged edge also seen in the photograph.

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It's amazing what a long focal length lens will do to make things look bigger. The moon this year will look less "honey" than the full moon in June looked last year, when it was only two days after solstice. The moon illusion is due to the visual conjugation of the moon, which we normally see isolated and high in the sky, and hence devoid of context, next to objects that we can see in the far distance that we know to be very large. It is exaggerated by the long focal length. Normally, we see the moon far up in the sky, and it is bigger than other things in the sky visually (except clouds). But there's no context. When it's on the horizon, like this shot, we are seeing something that normally looks small compared to the vast open sky, but seeing it as the backdrop to things we know to be quite large, like trees or skyscrapers. It's an optical illusion, and it's exaggerated by the focal length. Being close to perigee doesn't make a significant difference, either.

The funniest thing about this picture (which is beautiful, I will say) is that honey moon or not, a RISING MOON is always passing through about the same amount of atmosphere. So you aren't even seeing anything special here...just a moonrise. It's when the moon is at its peak at perigee, close to the solstice, where it will look yellower and larger than normal. This is just a nice shot of a moonrise, and it could be any moonrise.

The ONLY reason this particular honey moon has received extra attention is because it landed on a Friday 13. Which has absolutely no bearing on how it looks.