Moon Above Tree Tops

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Moon Above Tree Tops

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Abr 1, 2010, 2:37pm

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Editado: Abr 1, 2010, 2:44pm

Last night I looked up in the night time sky and noticed the moon looked lower than usual and to me it seemed to be right above the tree tops. What is the significance of this? How often does this occur? What can you tell me about what I saw last night? I'm kinda curious and was hoping someone might know something about it? Did anyone else happen to notice it as well? It would've been around 10:30 last night.

Did Primitve peoples have any kind of beliefs or superstitions about this event if they ever saw one?


Abr 1, 2010, 3:59pm

Did Primitve peoples have any kind of beliefs or superstitions about this event if they ever saw one?

The trees would have been smaller back then. But then, the moon probably was too.

Abr 1, 2010, 4:04pm

Seriously, it sounds like the moon may be falling. Have you contacted the local authorities?

Abr 1, 2010, 4:13pm

Ok, Ok, I'm sorry. Here's the scoop. The Moon orbits the Earth, which in turn rotates as it goes around the sun, giving us day and night. Sometimes the Moon is higher in the sky, sometimes it's lower. When it is closer to the horizon, there are more points of reference (e.g. trees), which can make the Moon appear larger.

I don't know of any specific myths/beliefs about the Moon in the trees. Ancient peoples did pay a lot of attention to the phases of the moon, going back very far in human history (see The Roots of Civilization). You may have noticed that the moon goes through its phases about once a month, therefore a lot of ancient civilizations utilized a lunar calendar.

I hope this explanation suffices until a real astronomer shows up.

Abr 1, 2010, 7:51pm

What is the definition of facetious anyway?

Abr 1, 2010, 9:49pm

Makifat - you'll do until a real astronomer shows up. Can you explain the correlation between moonrise and moonset and the phases of the moon? Is there a correlation? I have always wondered about this as I notice the moon in the sky at different times, but have been lazy and haven't done the proper observing and recording that would answer my question. Guess I wouldn't have been a scientific pioneer. Thanks for your help.

Abr 2, 2010, 2:27pm

Anastasia, yes, there is an obvious and simple correlation between the phases of the moon and the timing of moonrise and moonset. This is because the moon does not shine from its own light, but reflects the light of the sun. Thus, when the moon is opposite the sun in the sky as seen from Earth, it is full -- we are seeing the full lighted side of the moon. When the moon is near the sun in the sky, it's a new moon -- we see the dark side, or only a sliver of the light side. (Due to the inclination of the moon's orbit, we do not see a solar eclipse every month, since the moon does not always pass directly between the earth and the sun). Some quick doodling (or searching on "phases of the moon") should convince you that when the moon is opposite the sun in the sky and thus full, it will rise near sunset; conversely, when the moon is a slim crescent, it will be near the sun in the sky, and set either shortly before sunset (in which case it is usually not visible in the bright daytime sky before setting) or shortly after sunset.

Editado: Abr 2, 2010, 2:48pm

Thanks Lorax - at least I got the fact that there was a correlation, even if I never figured it out on my own. I never would have made the connection between light from the sun and fullness of the moon, even though I did know that the moon only has reflected light. LT - good for so many, many things. As a side note, I love it when you can see the moon in the daytime sky - I don't know why, but it is so beautiful that it fills me with a spiritual sense of how beautiful the world is. Thanks again.

Ok, so just so I have this - a waxing moon sets later and later achieving its latest setting when it is full and a waning moon sets earlier and earlier achieving its earliest setting when it is only a sliver. Yes?

Abr 2, 2010, 3:25pm

Just the opposite (or maybe not, depending on how you are scaling the "time" factor) - a waxing moon is one that is heading towards "full", ergo sets earlier in the evening (than a Full Moon would). The next day, however, it'll "set" later in the evening (but still earlier than when it's at the Full Moon phase) because its angular distance from the Sun (as seen from the Earth) is growing larger each day (when viewed at the same time of day).

A waning moon rises after sunset.

To clarify something that lorax said in #8 -- Thus, when the moon is opposite the sun in the sky as seen from Earth, it is full -- we are seeing the full lighted side of the moon. ...

Simply because conditions happen to be this way - the Moon spins on its axis in more or less the same rate as the Moon orbits the Earth. As a result, from Earth, mankind has never seen more than 52% of the Moon's surface - there's a little bit of 'wobble'.

So, during ~any~ phase of the Moon, half of the surface is lit. The Far Side of the Moon spends as much time in daylight (over the span of a complete Lunar Cycle - roughly 29.5 Earth days) as the side we are familiar with. lorax would been more succinct to state that (at the time of the Full Moon) the half of the Moon that we can see is fully illuminated.

Abr 2, 2010, 11:15pm

Yes, WholeHouseLibrary - that is pretty much what I meant - e.g. that the waxing moon sets later and later culminating in its latest setting at its full and the waning moon rises after sunset - got it I think. Thanks to all.

Abr 2, 2010, 11:47pm

One last thing... in #5, Makifat said "When it is closer to the horizon, there are more points of reference (e.g. trees), which can make the Moon appear larger."

The reason the Moon appears larger when it is nearer the the horizon has less to do with points of reference than it does, a) atmospheric density, and b) human physiology. When you look at the Moon at its zenith (directly above you), there is MUCH less atmosphere between you and it - just a couple of miles of it. When you look towards the horizon, you're looking through thousands of miles of atmosphere. The result is much more diffraction plus a lot of dust and aberration, which gives it a soft, reddish (or orangish), slightly out-of-focus, romantic look to the Moon. The physiology part has to do with the fact that your eye muscles get strained the more you tilt your head up. If you were to be suspended in a spherical room (say, 40 feet in diameter) with your head in the center, and every 2 feet along a north-south axis there were 1 foot circles painted on it, as you look from the horizon to zenith, they would seem to get smaller.

Abr 3, 2010, 9:21am

There is also a change in the path the moon travels across the sky on different nights. There are evenings when the moon seems to travel straight up from its rising in the east and passes almost overhead. Then, at other times in the earth-moon-sun dance the moon appears to rise at an angle to the horizon and follows a path that is rather southerly (at my North latitude) and seems to skim through the treetops south of my house. So the motion across the sky can appear rather complicated but does stay within a band of constellations known as the zodiac. (Probably more than you wanted to know.)

Abr 3, 2010, 10:31pm

No, not more than I wanted to know; this is interesting. I can't wait for it to get a little warmer so that I can go star and moongazing. For another fun fact about the moon, did any of you know that the path the moonlight makes upon the water is called the moonglade? I found this out about six months ago and think it is a beautiful word - magical.