Racing the Moon

My kids tell me to DRIVE FASTER so we can beat the moon home.  Of course we never do!  It is an illusion that the moon keeps pace with us as we drive.  It is simply so far away that is seems to keep up with us while the trees, house, and street-lights wiz past.  This is yet another cool thing about being a kid.  Kids notice things like that and I notice them now again too.  You can recreate this illusion by focusing on something else far away like a lamp across the room, then hold an object close to your face and move your head from side to side.  You will see that the lamp comes with you as you cross to the other side of the pencil.

Another moon illusion is how it appears so much larger or closer near the horizon.  However, if you measure it with your finger, you will discover it is the same size as when it is higher in the sky.  Although there are several theories for why this illusion occurs, our perception is at play here too.

The most plausible (from Wikipedia) seems to be is the Relative size hypothesis…

As clouds or other objects in the distance (near the horizon) recede and get smaller the moon does not.  The moon is the same distance from us whether close to the horizon or higher in the sky.  It looks larger compared to the smaller clouds or other objects close to the horizon.

Moon illusion (which moon looks bigger?)

Moon facts (from National Geographic)…

  • The moon is 239,900 miles from the earth.
  • The moon’s mass is about 1/18th the mass of earth.
  • If you weigh 132 lbs you would weigh 22 lbs on the moon.
  • We always see the same side of the moon because the moon’s rotation and its orbit around the earth take about the same time to complete (about 27.3 days).
  • The moon orbits the earth at a speed of 2,300 miles per hour.
  • The moon is dry but does have some trapped water from having been hit by comets and meteoroids containing water.
  • The moon’s gravitational pull cause the oceans tides.

reading suggestions…


I'm a practical mom inspired by nature & I enjoy sharing ideas that encourage kids' innate curiosity & creativity. Interested in subscribing? Check out the blue box at the top of my sidebar. I'm also a wannabe author/illustrator & product designer by day. Let's connect! If you purchase through my Amazon links I get a small commission at no additional cost to you (thanks for supporting Doodles and Jots)! And remember to always credit your source here & elsewhere on the internet.


  1. I have a little love affair with the moon. I have memorized its phases twice, only to forget them. (Yes, lovely memory)
    These facts are so intriguing! Thanks for sharing…I won’t race the moon anymore. I hope…

  2. You are like the coolest mom :-) It is so cute your kids say that.

    One thing I love the most about moving back to Maui (from Honolulu which is a big city) is how clear the sky is. It is wonderful to sit outside with no street lights and look at the moon and stars in the clear sky.

    • Thanks Tania! The stars are so much brighter outside the city! That sounds so nice – I am starting to miss the warm weather already!

  3. The moon has always captured my affection. There is something about it that just enamors me. I think that is why I love moonflowers so much. They only bloom at night like the moon.
    Love your kid’s idea of racing it. So cute!

  4. When I was a kid, riding in the car I would be unaware of the way the roads twisted and turned so I always thought we were going to crash into trees when we would go around a bend. I would shout to my Dad to “watch out!” and he would repeatedly reassure me.

    I just love your racing the moon.

  5. Another cute picture book (and Caldecott winner) is Kitten’s Full Moon by Kevin Henkes. Love the idea of the moon just a short distance/can almost grab it idea!

    Oh, also Papa Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle.

    • I know – aren’t they! My son wanted to race the stars the other night but they were having trouble keeping track of them!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge