Gazing at the night sky, you must have wondered someday why the moon looks bigger when it is near the horizon. However, you are not alone as many are left puzzled by the same mystery which is called the Moon illusion.
Demystifying the phenomenon, Maurice Hershenson, professor of psychology at Brandeis University, Massachusetts, has claimed that the illusion is in fact not real and that our brain is to be blamed for what we see, reported Scientific American.
The professor said that there are quite a few misconceptions around the moon illusion. One of them, he said, is that people often think it is due to the refraction of light near the horizon which makes the moon appear bigger. Apparently, although refraction does occur, it is not the reason for the illusion.
“Clearly, this is a psychological effect,” said Hershenson. While stating that there are a number of different theories explaining the phenomena, the professor said that he believes it is linked to our brain mechanism.
Elucidating, he said the mechanism that “produces everyday size-distance perception” is responsible for the unusual appearance of the moon. It is a genetically determined brain process that allows the individual to convert planar images into rigid objects. When this mechanism operates in an unusual situation, it results in the moon illusion.
To prove that the moon indeed does not increase in size when near the horizon, you can make use of several methods. The easiest way is to simply click a picture of the moon when it’s high in the sky and one when it’s near the horizon. Now compare the photos and you will observe that the width of the moon remains to be the same in both.
Another way is to look at the moon through a paper tube when it is near the horizon and you will notice that it doesn’t seem bigger at all.
Now, if you argue how filmmakers are able to capture such a gigantic image or video of the moon, then it is just a mere trick. Photographers often click pictures of the moon when it’s near the horizon using a long lens. They also incorporate buildings, trees and mountains in the frame and make the moon appear bigger.
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