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 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.