The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
-Psalm 19:1

Do you know that God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash?
-Job 37:15

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Not so Summer Solstice Sky for me...

Sky Watch Friday post time!!! (Please visit our host, Tom's blog to participate in Sky Watch Fridays. So much fun!!! I highly recommend it!) Today's Sky Watch Friday Shot is a shot at my sky yesterday... of course, I was attempting to see the Summer Solstice Moon. I actually got set up in a decently picturesque spot facing east with Mini-Dew and bf's children, trying to see the glorious illusion... unfortunately, my only view was of some distance thunderheads, which were beautifully illuminated by the setting sun.Now, mind you, this would have been ok, had I gotten a piece of the thunderstorm action, but it was off in the distant east, and I had to get Mini-Dew off to beddy-bye after sitting up to catch a piece of the Solstice Moon "illusion"... which we didn't see... grumble, grumble... but I'm not bitter. lol. The more I read about the Solstice Moon illusion, the more interested I become. I have seen it before, and I wanted desperately to capture it but apparently...

Moons on film are the same size regardless of elevation. Apparently, only human beings see giant moons. High moons and low moons make the same sized spot, yet the brain insists one is bigger than the other. Maybe it's the shape of the sky. Humans perceive the sky as a flattened dome, with the zenith nearby and the horizon far away. It makes sense; birds flying overhead are closer than birds on the horizon. When the moon is near the horizon, your brain, trained by watching birds (and clouds and airplanes), miscalculates the Moon's true distance and size. ~source
Still interested in more information...? Keep reading...
"Full Moons that occur close to the summer solstice are special because they follow the lowest path across the sky of all of the year's full Moons." explains Dr. George Lebo, a NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center Summer Faculty Fellow. "Moons seen just above the horizon look much larger than normal. It's an optical illusion, of course, but it's still a pretty sight."

Why does a moon viewed close to the horizon appear bigger than one seen high in the sky? It's a question that scientists and philosophers have debated for thousands of years. The Moon is same distance away in both cases, it shines with the same brightness, and it subtends the same angular diameter (1/2 degree). Logically, there should be no difference, but most observers perceive one anyway.

According to the most popular explanation, which springs from the "apparent distance theory" offered by psychologists Kaufman and Rock in 1962, a moon viewed near the horizon seems farther away than one shining down from overhead. Curiously, this causes the horizon Moon to appear bigger (we usually think of more distant objects as appearing smaller). The effect is similar to the 'Ponzo' railroad track illusion, illustrated here.

Right: In 1913 Mario Ponzo presented the well-known railroad track illusion in which two identical bars are drawn across a pair of converging lines. The upper yellow bar appears much larger because it spans a greater apparent distance between the rails. In fact, the two bars are exactly the same width. This effect may be at work with the mysterious horizon moon illusion. Distance cues like foreground mountains and trees may cause the horizon moon to appear more distant than a moon that is high in the sky. As in the Ponzo illusion, the more distant-seeming Moon appears wider. In fact, the Moon subtends a constant 1/2 degree angle no matter how high it is above the horizon. It's all a trick of the eye. ~source
Incidentally, it is said that if you "squish" the moon, between your forefinger and thumb, eliminating the foreground, the illusion disappears. Cool, huh? It's important to note that sometimes pilots see this effect without any foreground, so that's not the only factor that generates the illusion.

So, even though I don't have an attempted shot captured of the "illusion" since I had the thunderstorm obstruction, I haven't given up... I try again during the solstice next year.

Aside from all that, there were 4 tornado reports yesterday in the upper midwest. There are more severe weather slight risk areas hatched out by the Storm Prediction Center for the next few days. The tropical wave, this morning, was still churning in the Atlantic, though it looks less impressive and is headed for a VERY HEAVILY sheared environment. The Storm Prediction Center has updated the tornado trend graphic... no words can properly express my awe of this historically tornadic year...
I wonder what the fall season will show us...

During lunch yesterday, bf and I went for an adventurous ride down a dirt road neither of us had traveled on before... I was able to capture a couple of nice canopy shots...Have a lovely day,


  1. The Moon Illusion is fascinating, isn't it?! :D I started learning about it when I got into astronomy and started astroimaging.

    Glad to see that I am not the only perpetual student! Nice to have a kindred spirit around. ;)

  2. Excellent post again Dew... I really love calling here any day of the week.

    Thank you for being a part of Sky Watch this week, your post and comments are much appreciated.
    Tom ;O)

  3. Loved the journey through the trees.

  4. Oh Christine, I just love it... very cool stuff. Isn't the human brain amazing?! Great to have a kindred spirit along for the ride.

    Tom, An honor to have you calling... I love being a part of SWF. It is one of the highlights of my week. Thank you so much for hosting and for your wonderful comments.

    Mrs. Nesbitt, Glad you could come along.

  5. You, "our weather man"... you always teach ous a lot!!


  6. So sweet, anemone... I would love to be a "weather man". :O) You are welcome. Glad you enjoy it.

  7. Very interesting with the closing photos done in B&W and Sepia. I like that medium.

  8. Lovely shot that first one and the two bottom ones remind me of my dirt roads here in West Virginia.
    I was excited about the solstic moon too; but like you we had clouds and it didn't happen :(
    Happy Skywatching!

  9. Great sky watch post with a lot of interesting facts. Coming home this evening the moon was looking particularly big as it rose over the sea - now I know I why.

  10. A number of wonderful pictures here. Thanks for all of them.

  11. Lovely day to you too and thank you for all your great Sky shots!

    Petunia's SWF post

  12. Beautiful sunset and clouds.

  13. Very nice Sky Watch shot!
    I love the two last shots!
    Wonderful scenes.
    We have had lot`s of thunderstorms the last few days in the Western part of Norway.
    I don`t like it.... ;)
    At the same time it is facinating!
    I pull out all the electric outlets etc.....
    One day my girls, who is 9 and 11 sat in the car during one of the thunderstorms. They were scared and excited, all at once.

  14. What a beautiful sky and i loved the walk with you. Loved the B&W photo at the end

  15. beautiful and interesting pics

  16. Fascinating perspective information. Thanks! Sorry you didn't get mooned :)

  17. Very beautiful and an interesting post, as well!

  18. holy guacamole Ms,Dew, what a week you have had! I just caught up I have been working non stop by Tuesday i will have worked 14 days strait!! I love that u had such a good time last weekend what a trip u had funnels and seabreeze isn't Florida great!! I will talk to yo soon... i hope. Oh great moon info, the mind is an amazing thing. i haven't posted sky watch yet i will in the morning!!

  19. For Sky Watch over at San Francisco Bay Daily Photo, we have a dance between the moon and the fog at midnight.

  20. Fascianting post. It's breathtaking even reading your posts nevermind the images which are stunning.

  21. Stunning photos, excellent post!!

  22. This is awesome stuff!

    My Sky Watch is here, thanks!

    ~ Stuff I Shoot

  23. Your sky watch shot is beautiful, but I'm partial to the b&w's you took of the road. Very cool!

  24. I fully intended to go watch the Moon Illusion last night, but got to reading blogs and when I looked up it was 10:30! Rats and Mice!
    Sorry the cloud cover didn't cooperate with you; nice photo of the pink thundercloud, though.

    As usual, excellent information.

  25. Great post,as usual.Have a nice weekend!

  26. Wow. What an awesome shot of the sky Dew! I love it!!! Too bad I didn't get to see the moon solstice. I hope I could catch it next time... :)

  27. Amazingly beautiful sky...and thanks for the info about the Solstice Moon. On Wednesday we saw the pink, full moon coming up on a lake with swans. I though it didn't get much better than that.
    Have a lovely weekend!

  28. A beautiful SWF! Gorgeous colors. Liked the sepia canopy shot, too! And great moon info! :)
    Cheers, Klaus

  29. nice pictures

  30. Texican, I like B&W and Sepia from time to time... for the ambiance. Thanks.

    Picturing of life, Thanks.

    Carletta, Sorry you missed the solstice moon illusion too. What a stinker. I was hoping to see how it might have captured... if at all.

    Max-e, Glad you enjoyed your visit. Glad I was able to help you out with what you were seeing.

    Bobbie, THANKS! You're welcome!

    Petunia, Lovely day to you, and you are so welcome. Love your purple tree.

    Daniel, Thanks.

    Sherry, Thanks!! It was nice.

    Ida, Thanks. It was a nice little excursion. Bf was so patient as I had him creep along the road to get the perspective I was after. Scared and excited, huh? Sounds like you have a little chaser in you... ;O)

    Lilli, Come walk with me anytime. :O)

    Esnorway, Thanks.

    Chuck, Glad you enjoyed that. I thought you might appreciate it. I hate that I missed the mooning (that comment cracked me up!!!)

    Sandpiper, Thanks!!!

    Jess, It has been an exceptional week. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. The funnel was AWESOME!!!

    Louis, I checked it out.

    Babooshka, Thanks. I am so thrilled that you enjoy my posts so much.

    Champ Townboy, Thanks!!!!

    George, Really, thanks.

    Teresa, Thanks. I enjoyed that joy ride.

    Pat, Sorry you didn't get "mooned" either. So kind, thanks.

    Ladynred... is dancing with me... sorry, had to. Thanks. I hated missing the moon, but it was a nice compromise.

    Anne, Thanks. You too!!!

    Ice, Thanks. I hope I can catch it next time.

    Nonizamboni, You're welcome and thank you. No, it doesn't get much better than that.

    Klaus, Thanks, glad you enjoyed it.

    Tommy, Thanks.

  31. Perfecct, Dewdrop! My post is of that 'big' moon, all orange and friendly. You have answered some of my questions.

    Your photos are fantastic, as always. Thanks!

  32. Cherie, Glad I could help you out with that. I'm sure it was amazing!!!! Thank you!!!

  33. Really nice sky photo! I did my first SWF-photo and now checking out others.


  34. Thanks, Timo. I will have to check that out!

  35. There calling for Thunderstorms here in North Idaho. Sure hope they don't arrive tell after I have my Lithia party.

    Have a great summer!!!

  36. Beautiful photos.The journey through the tree is lovely

  37. DewDrop: Very nicely done with a very informative post. Happy SWF.

  38. Great swf post and very nice shots!
    Have a nice weekend.

  39. Dew, if you have time, check out the Sky Watch photo on Aileni Noyes blogspot. He's #65 on Tom's list this week. He has a photo of a most unusual cloud formation. Wondered if you knew what it could be. I'm sure he would welcome any information.

  40. Love your information!

  41. I have been obsessed with the moon this week and being the novice I am, my shots didn't come out. It has been gorgeous and HUGE!! I had no idea it just appeared that way and thanks to you, I have learned a great deal more :)

    Your shots are always gorgeous and I love the storm clouds!

  42. Beautiful shots and good information! From AnneKa in Norway

  43. Thanks for the input, Dew - but the clouds were too low to be lenticular. Cloud base was not much above a thousand feet.
    Clouds have always interested me since I started a weather record when I was twelve. Became a great passion when I earned my gliding wings at sizteen and the interest remains. On our island we were great weather watchers as you can imagine. The sky and the sea pretty much ruled us.
    We are too built-up here for a low Moon but I saw it once from Inishfree.

  44. Hi there, great shot you have this week. Love the two last ones also... :)

  45. Lovely picture of the solstice sunset. Great info on the moon too.

    Thanks all 'round

  46. Hi DewI came back to read through a bit more about this moon stuff.. I missed it. I'm sorry to say I forgot all about it.. I need a good kick in the pants for that.. ;o)
    Great post Dew and this dirt track would have been just such a word to take my land rover down..

  47. Being an amateur astronomer, I really enjoyed this post.

    Thanks for sharing.

    You always do a great job and are one of my very fav sites.


  48. I have missed having access to your blog! I love road shots, yours are great. We missed the moon thing because I forgot about it...

  49. Thanks be to God, Diane.

    Peppylady, Lithia party? Hope it went over without a hitch or a drop...

    Angie, Thank you.

    Fishing guy, Happy SWF to you, and thanks.

    John, Thanks, back to you.

    Pat, I couldn't come up with what it was... hmm... interesting. I thought I knew them all.

    Lana, Thanks. So glad.

    Debbie, Glad you were able to learn something here. Awesome. Thanks so much. I love the storm clouds too.

    AnneKa, Thanks, greetings over there.

    Aileni, You're welcome... it was worth a guess. I have no idea what they were... A weather record??? Interesting. I would love to hear more. I would imagine sea and sky control a great deal there.

    Fugazi, Thanks, and hi there.

    Lea, If only...

    Thanks, Tom, for taking another gander. So wonderful to have you along. You would have enjoyed the road. Bf likes to spin out on roads like that.

    Troy, Cool. Glad you enjoyed yourself. One of your favs?! WOW. Thanks.

    Annie, Sorry you missed me... ditto.

  50. Thanks for your comment on my SWF today, and the link back to here. That railroad track thing makes it clear as a bell!

  51. Awesome! Glad it helped, Deborah!


Dew comment, please...