We’ve all seen them. The grand illuminated orb above the New York evening skyline. Mountains at dusk in front of the mountain-sized Moon. The lunar disc reflecting its silhouette upon the ocean, horizon to horizon.
With some well-planned exceptions, all of these scenes are phony.
There must be a romantic need to enlarge the Moon far beyond its correct size as perceived from Earth. Television and movies have a tendency increase the Moon’s size when it fits artistic goals.
This is not to disparage photographers who carefully set up a proportional perspective shot of the Moon, for example, to frame a horizon or even people within the Moon’s disc. But these true images are difficult to create and involve long distances and almost telescopic lenses.
My guess is that nearly all enlarged Moons are highly edited and possibly false. Let’s run through a few exercises to show the correct Moon size versus equivalents with embellished interpretations.
To create an enlarged Moon template, I used my Full Moon photo from September 13th. This picture was taken with my digital camera and 300mm lens. Outside of some post-processing for sharpness, contrast, and brightness, it is unedited.
Let’s take three examples. We’ll go all the way back in time to 2017. This was from my Halloween post of that year, where the Moon was masked by an interesting cloud pattern.
Here is the same picture, but now with my Moon from last Friday inserted. I tinkered with the brightness and gelled the Moon into the clouds:
Our next example is a smartphone picture from August 2017 of clouds and the daytime Moon. The Moon was a little past its Quarter Phase.
I had some fun with this one and blew the Moon up far more. I didn’t correct for the change in blue sky light, but did move the coloring towards grey to try to mimic the daytime Moon a bit:
If the Moon were truly this close to Earth, we wouldn’t be here. I am no scientist, but I have a good hunch the lunar gravitational pull would create extraordinary tides and tectonic instability. I doubt human civilization could have been cultivated in such an environment, with only small land plant life flourishing on the surface.
My final example is an early crescent Moon from November 2017. The framing from multiple trees shows the relatively small size of the Moon as it dipped towards the horizon that evening.
Unless Jupiter explodes into a star soon, the Moon will never be Full in the West at Sunset! But again just for fun, I airbrushed out the real Moon and inserted the baseline template. Like the previous phony pic, if you ever saw the Moon this large in the sky, something would be seriously wrong!
I promise that my next Moon post will feature all objects at their correct proportions.