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Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

Posted May 13, 2007 5:01 PM
Pathfinder Tags: challenge questions

The question as it appears in the 05/15 edition of Specs & Techs from GlobalSpec:

You and your buddies are enjoying a brisk autumn evening at the beach. As the Harvest Moon begins to rise over the ocean, someone remarks it looks unusually large -- like a big, orange basketball emerging from the water. You don't have a basketball, but do have a football which you hold up to compare to the moon. Even at arm's length, the football looks larger than the moon. Which of these objects, held at arm's length, would look similar in size to the rising Harvest Moon: baseball; beer can; bottle cap; or aspirin tablet?

Thanks to AstroNut who submitted the original question (which we revised a bit).


(Update: May 22, 8:39 PM EST) And the Answer is...


It's the aspirin tablet! Astounding but true. If you don't have an aspirin handy, you can use the tip of your little finger: your pinky easily blots out the entire moon.

A full moon at the horizon does seem unusually large – this is the much-discussed Moon Illusion – but measuring against an aspirin shows that the moon's diameter is nearly constant regardless of phase, altitude, or time of year.

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#1

Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/13/2007 6:52 PM

My guess would have been a bottle cap. But I know the moon and sun both subtend about the same angle, half a degree. At arm's length, that works out to only about the size of a aspirin! That means that you could have a really tiny sun visor on your car if the visor could track the sun's relative position automatically.

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#2
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/13/2007 10:21 PM

You'd need two really small sun visors: one for each eye.

Moon diameter = 3476km

Distance to Moon = 384403km (Actually that's centre to centre)

Davo's eye to Davo's hand ≈ 750mm

Object diameter = 750mm x 3476/384403 ≈ 7mm

I'd say it's the asprin.

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#3
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 1:25 AM

The answers given so far is correct.

Interesting, that although the Moon looks so much large when it rises than when overhead, it s actually 2% smaller in angular diameter when rising than when overhead! At the horizon it is one Earth radius farther from the viewer than when overhead. The visual effect has to do with our perception of distance: when rising over the sea it looks like sitting "just over the horizon". When overhead it seems like very, very high...

-J

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#4
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 3:28 AM

Does the 'larger size at the horizon' effect also have to do with light curving as it comes through the atmosphere? I've heard this before and it makes some sense that vertical dimensions would be altered, but why horizontal dimensions?

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#6
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 4:18 AM

Hi Davo, you asked: "Does the 'larger size at the horizon' effect also have to do with light curving as it comes through the atmosphere?"

No, it is purely an illusion due to distance perception, as pointed out before.

In fact the bending of light near the horizon makes the moon appear "flatter" than what it would have been if there was no atmosphere, hence even "smaller" in angular dimensions. Light from the lower limb of the Moon is bent more than from the upper limb and hence the two sides look closer than what they really are.

The atmosphere does not affect the horizontal dimensions.

-J

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#5
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 3:55 AM

The visual effect has to do with our perception of distance

I'd heard of the moon looking bigger in the right conditions. The fact that it is more distant when rising , makes the visual deception even more curious. Can you elaborate on the way this works Jorrie. I'm sure I've seen photographs which , again , seem to exaggerate the size of the moon (without trickery).

The answer hear must surely be more complex than a Google search would reveal (I was tempted by 'unearth' for bonus laughs , as the question doesn't appear to have many miles in it).

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#8
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 4:38 AM

hi Kris, you asked: "Can you elaborate on the way this works Jorrie. I'm sure I've seen photographs which , again , seem to exaggerate the size of the moon (without trickery)."

I think the type of foreground objects can increase the perception that the moon is very far when it's above the horizon, hence its angular size is interpreted as belonging to a BIG object.

When overhead, it's impossible to tell if it is a balloon floating nearby and it is perceived as a smallish object that is not so far.

Oops, I think I had it the wrong way around in my very first reply above!

-J

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#10
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 6:55 AM

I'm in danger of falling of my branch here Jorrie ! Can I ask your verdict with reference to one of the items listed ? If I understand correctly , you seem to be favouring a large item to block out the moon now. Like looking upward , the only point of reference is a fairly meaningless (?) flat horizon.

I take your point about the curvature of light by the atmosphere , but does the implied cold air reveal anything ? I have to ask you since I trust your knowledge more than Google on this ("flattery will get you everywhere" they say. I'll live with an occasional poke in the eye as a consequence !)

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#14
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 12:26 PM

The eye is a very peculiar optical instrument -- or the most prosaic, depending upon your point of view () -- after all, we each have a couple.

The eyes' resolution (if unaided by processing that occurs in and on the way to the brain) is only about 10 lines across that aspirin tablet held at arms length. That should make the tablet appear to have a bad case of the "jaggies" (like a low resolution bitmap image). But the tablet appears perfectly round and smooth-edged.

That mediocre 10 line resolution only applies to the central couple degrees of the eyes' visual field -- outside that small area, acuity is even worse. You can prove that to yourself by holding a fingertip against one word on the computer screen, and focusing on just your fingertip, trying not to allow your eyes to move. You can't clearly read any more than about one word to either side of your finger.

To give us the rather incredible eyesight we have, the brain does a phenomenal amount of processing to compensate for a limited number of rods and cones. Back in my college days, I was intrigued by optical illusions and studied perceptual psychology with perhaps more interest than almost anything else (excluding , perhaps, the study of heavenly bodies ). I came away from that with the conclusion that virtually everything we see is an illusion of one sort or another -- at least in the sense that the image on our retina is not what we "see".

The common explanations for the moon illusion do not hold up well. The illusion occurs with flat water at sea, with nothing but a smooth horizon. Some people report that the moon looks bigger on the horizon, others report that it looks closer. And of course, no one reports anything like this "Well, when it's on the horizon, it looks about 3500 km across, but when it's high in the sky it looks about 2800 km across.

So, a logical thinker can easily get it "the wrong way around" because the existing theories are logically inconsistent. Here is a pretty good summary of some of the problems in existing theories, and some advocacy for a new theory.

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#17
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 1:37 PM

Thanks Ken . Thats a really good link as well . I see almost entirely out of one eye , but can still function pretty good because the brain adapts with some very cunning instinctive tricks (using shadow, known object size, moving the head side to side, using reference objects). I could probably be well tricked in a lab test !

Now that I'm off at a tangent , have you seen the baby balance experiment ? Toddler stands in an empty room with clearly marked walls. If the walls are moved in unison over the static floor , the poor toddler keels over. I never quite understood the point of this , as I would do the same. It's rather like sitting on a train that is stationary when an adjacent train moves forward (dammit why didn't I take note of the coffee cup thread ). On a Friday night I can easily accomplish the effect even without walls that actually move !

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#20
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 3:46 PM

I always feel like such a nitwit when, sitting at a traffic light, I catch movement out of the corner of my eye, and interpret it as my own car moving. So I press harder on the brake pedal (and sometimes, even harder yet) before realizing that it's not me moving, it's the guy next to me.

I guess people get a kick out of watching babies fall over! Actually, most of such studies are aimed at things like determining how much of perception is learned, when developmental stages, occur, etc. Even so, psych experiments can get pretty bizarre.

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#59
In reply to #17

Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 6:14 PM

But,

the toddler would have to hold up a bottle cap? Right? no wait, a tictac®.

So, if the toddler is holding up the tictac® when the walls move, will he fall over?

don't answer...

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#67
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 3:56 AM

..... of course I will - It's my pleasure !

No alcohol or sweet is required.

The toddler may be safe if it pre-emptively moonwalks. Rotational illusions may confuse the poor thing too much. Vertical illusions may be safely tested.

That about covers it. Maybe.

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#75
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 4:55 AM

As I read it, this "new" theory ignores some of the evidence from the OSA/SPIE work of the 1970s. Basically, the only "context" that is needed to create the moon illusion is a horizon*. The OSA/SPIE demonstration had the viewer in front of a large sheet of plywood (or similar), placed somewhere under the chin, and tilted the whole structure. It was only a very peripheral interest for me, so I can't remember whether it made a difference if you had to bend your neck - but I rather suspect it might.

Fyz

*Though it's more than possible that other cues could enhance or diminish the effect.

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#118
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 1:24 PM

Hi Fyz,

You are correct to put "new" in quotes. McCready has held his micropsia views for a long time, despite the fact that they can't explain the magnitude of the moon illusion (accounting for only about 1/5 of the usually reported size difference -- even if you accept that the mechanism is really at play).

Lloyd Kaufman has also been researching this for a long time, and in an abstract to a paper "Explaining the Moon Illusion" he writes:

  • Although Emmert's law does not predict the size-distance relationship over long distances, we conclude that the horizon moon is perceived as larger because the perceptual system treats it as though it is much farther away. Finally, we observe that recent explanations substitute perceived size for angular size as a cue to distance. Thus, they imply that perceptions cause perceptions.

That article: http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/full/97/1/500

I'm unconvinced*. I can't see that his explanation is any less circuitous than others. He seems to suggest that the implication that "perceptions cause perceptions" is logically far-fetched. But perceptions do cause perceptions. Depth perception and size perception are inextricably linked.

The reported perception of most people is that the horizon moon appears closer. Kaufman agrees with that assertion, but then concludes that the "the horizon moon is perceived as larger because the perceptual system treats it as though it is much farther away."

Part of the difficulty in assessing the perceptual effects of illusions is dealing with people's inability to articulate exactly what they perceive. If you are experienced with common illusions, when someone asks, "which line looks longer?" you often say that they look the same, because you know they are the same, and eventually, knowing that, they really do look the same. With the moon, you can say is looks closer because it looks bigger, or you can say it looks bigger because is it appears closer, or you can say that is looks like it is hundreds of thousands of miles away. Does Venus look smaller than the moon? I think it looks bigger, given that it is so far away.

Donald Simanek, the "Museum of Unworkable Devices" guy, gives a pretty good summary of some of the issues in the moon illusion. I suspect that the answer lies (as you and Trehub suggest) in our great interest in things that are at eye level. Even my cat regularly establishes eye contact. (But then, what about apparent moon size in planetariums?)

* However, there is a kind of neat stereogram in the article you can play with, if you don't mind giving yourself a headache.

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#130
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/17/2007 4:10 AM

I was at an I Mech E presentation last night on the World Land Speed Record attempt (successful - 350 mph) by the JCB Diesel MAX team. Towards the end of the presentation were some aerial pictures of the site - Bonneville Salt Flats - some during Speed Week and some during the FIA time trials. In all of them, the trucks, cars and people looked like those you see on model railways; even though I knew these were full-sized items, by brain refused to accept them as real. I put this down to the lack of background - there were no features as all you could see was the white of the salt. It was quite fun sitting there knowing that what I was looking at what not what my brain perceived it to be.

There was also an in-cockpit film made during the final run. The forward facing camera gave no sense of speed - again for the same reason that there were no features, or reference points.

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#15
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 1:13 PM

Jorrie,

Your explanation is correct. Atmospheric refraction bends the light from the object causing it to appear higher in the sky than it actually is. The bottom of the moon is bent more, hence the moon appears elongated. The horizontal diameter of the moon is unchanged, but the vertical size is smaller.

The moon is about 0.5 degrees in diameter. At a distance of 0.75 meters from your eye, it appears about 6.5 mm in diameter (1/4 inch). The aspirin tablet is the right size.

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#19
In reply to #15

Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 3:46 PM

Under normal "moon" conditions you may be correct.... However, the harvest moon is much larger than all other full moons during the year.... It just is.... It's much larger and much more orange in color .... can't explain it .... just know it....

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#23
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 4:53 PM

What the articles don't seen to address is the role of shade and colour - I don;t know the mechanism, but glowing red objects do appear to be larger than blue, white or yellow ones of the same size. I still think that, whatever the immediate neurological route, these effects developed at least in part as aids to survival - features that are likely to be of more importance simply appear larger. Perhaps this one could have developed as a result of responses to fire?

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#30
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 5:51 AM

I think you'v got something there, Fyz.

I always have trouble reading blue/purple on an orange background, as the text seems to flash (grow & shrink) - my eyes cannot decide which is most important!

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#38
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 10:38 AM

Yes, the atmosphere scatters blue light. This is called Rayleigh scattering. As a ray of light has a longer air path when it is near the horizon as apposed to being overhead at the Zenith, more of an object's blue light is scattered when when it is near the horizon. Hence it appears read!

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#42
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 12:13 PM

That was all taken as "read" in the original comment. The point at issue is why this might make the moon (or sun) look larger.

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#60
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 7:03 PM

Isn't a harvest moon more or less black & white?

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#26
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 3:31 AM

Jorrie,

I've often thought that the moon illusion is based on the optics of the human eye. If you are old enough to remember the Watergate hearings, a lot of media photographers and news channels were there using telephoto lenses to get close to the action. Anyway, while Dean was giving his testimony, I couldn't help but notice how large the people sitting behind him seemed to be. They were huge compared to the talker. I've also noticed this effect during baseball games. The pitcher seems to be throwing the ball to an enormous batter and catcher (No Giants jokes please).

Alfred Hitchcock also used this optical phenomenon in Vertigo, where he both zoomed in and pulled the camera back at the same time, causing a space-warp effect.

So, the human eye acting as a telephoto lens, looks at the trees in front of the moon, but renders the moon significantly larger to the film/video tape of the mind.

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#28
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 3:44 AM

Hi vermin, you wrote: "So, the human eye acting as a telephoto lens, looks at the trees in front of the moon, but renders the moon significantly larger to the film/video tape of the mind."

I fully agree, as long as we include the signal processing of the brain as part of the "human eye". Me thinks it's more like "digital zoom" than "optical zoom".

-J

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#29
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 5:36 AM

Damn. I always thought that the moon sometimes looked bigger on the horizon because of thje water vapour in the air magnifiying the moon. The more moisture in the air the larger the moon. (Not raining conditions). The colour was from the longer wavelength of light. The light of the moon had to go through a larger propotion of atmosphere, in the same way sunsets are red and orange. Sunsets go from orange to red as the light from the sun has to go through more atmosphere as it sets .Then again the sun looks bigger at sunset, because of the same conditions that I stated for the moon.

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#65
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 3:02 AM

Psycho Killer, run, run, run, away....

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#72
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 4:32 AM

Same as it ever was.

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#74
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 4:42 AM

Rising up above the Earth

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#80
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 5:02 AM

Remain in Light !

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#93
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 8:48 AM

Cold hearted orb that rules the night

Removes the colours from our sight

Red is gray and yellow, white

But we decide which is right

And which is an illusion

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#102
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 10:43 AM

Whoa! Rockin' flashback!!

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#68
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 4:04 AM

Your tag sounds sad vermin ! I suspected.

Datarock sound like they nicked Talking Heads riddum.

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#9
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 5:31 AM

The best explanation I have heard for the moon illusion has been described as the leopard in a tree, or cityscape effect. Essentially, we have evolved to be most aware of objects that are at, or slightly above, ground level. This is clearly an advantage - apart from helping us avoid falling over, most opportunities appear in this region, as well as many threats - and the solid angle that animals would have to scan to be aware of the very rare threats from hunting birds means the lack of attention to more common threats would make the activity counter-productive (this is clearly even more the case for larger animals such as humans than smaller ones such as rodents).
N.B. Experiments have shown that we adjust this perception for tilting ground.

Then you might think about walking through towns - you only become aware of the details at the tops of buildings when you make a conscious effort. You also feel relatively private in the higher stories of a building, even when you can see people in the streets - and this feeling is accurate - how often do you see them looking upwards towards you? Leopards' hunting methods have developed to take advantage of this selective awareness.

As Jorrie says, the first few degrees looking upwards seem more like half-way to vertical...

BTW, I try to avoid spending too much time visually comparing the moon with other objects - it makes my neck ache (end of aspirin?)

Fyz

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#35
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 8:37 AM

Jorrie, you lost me! If one had a gigantic compass, with one end stuck in the ground beside the viewer, and the other end planted on the moon, wouldn't the arc drawn be the same from the moon's surface at the horizon to 90 degrees overhead? The moon is essentially the same distance away from the observer all day long, until the Earth rotates away??? Am I missing something? If I use a laser to determine the distance to the Moon's surface, isn't it the same from the observer when the moon is at the horizon and then directly overhead during the 90 degree arc of Moon travel?

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#39
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 10:53 AM

When you see the moon on the horizon, you are one earth's radius (4,000 miles) further away from it than someone at the point on the Earth where the moon is directly overhead. That's just under 2% of the 250,000 mile distance from the moon. Then there is the refractive effect (lensing) due to the curvature of the atmosphere that reduces the vertical angle at the eye. I'm not certain which of these Jorrie was referring to. But it's all a small change compared with the 13% variation in the moon's distance to the earth due to its varying and non-circular orbit. All of which is irrelevant compared with the difference in size between typical aspirin tablets and bottle tops (not to mention baseballs, preferably)

Fyz

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#41
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 11:38 AM

The moon moves in an ellipse with an eccentricity of approximately 0.055. This means it varies from 364,000 km at perigee to 406,000 km at apogee. This is about 11% variation about the mean distance of 384,000 km. In addition, the gravitational interaction between the earth, moon, and the sun (other objects in the solar system also have a minor effect), the moons orbit changes with time. The siderial location (with respect to the fixed stars) of perigee changes. The location of perigee moves completely around the moon's orbit in an 8.85 year period.

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#40
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 11:27 AM

Hi Jorrie et-al,

I have presented this enigma to an astronomer friend of mine in Israel, and he agreed with most of the answers but had an interesting comment:

"An important part of the optical illusion is the fact that the atmosphere in many cases is acting as magnifying glass due to it's ripple effect,(Frensel lens), and the earth bending effect on the lower layers (of the atmosphere,) due to gravity." He also added, that "looking at the earth from the moon, the earth size as observed, will always be same size and more or less same intensity."

For our benefit.

Wangito.

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#44
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 12:29 PM

As Jorrie pointed out earlier, the main effect of the atmosphere is to reduce the vertical extent angle subtended by the sun. Atmospheric irregularities can ameliorate this, but I am not aware of them ever being sufficient even to compensate**. In any case, these effects are tiny compared with the perceptual effects we are considering. A SPIE group checked this experimentally in the 1970s, and the maximum atmospheric optical effects they could find were under 10% - compared with moon angular extent* variations of 15%, and perceived effects of more than a factor of two for most people (and apparently a factor of over 10 for some people responding on this site!)

Fyz


*The earth from the moon will vary about 13%,which is still more than any atmospheric optical effects that were found.
**You can get very fuzzy images scattered by cloud - but people don't think the moon is enlarged because they can easily perceive this as blurring.

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#62
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 8:41 PM

The film showing the "earth rise" from the apollo 8 mission demonstrated the difference in the atmospheric distortion here versus the non-distortion, constant size of the earth in the film....agree with the rippling effect of stretching the moon to make it appear larger on rising.

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#63
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 10:11 PM

No. The moon illusion has been tracked down to the structure of the human eye and the way the human brain handles the info.

It's not heat waves, thicker atmosphere, light bending, or anything like that. If it were, boy we wouldn't need telescopes to study the sky, all we'd need to do is catch the view at the horizon.

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#76
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 4:57 AM

Wait for the next full moon and check it for yourself.

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#81
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 5:03 AM

Classic !

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#103
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 10:48 AM

Ha - very good science, there! But notice that this challenge was issued on a New Moon week... Next full moon isn't until the 31st. You won't even be able to try it on a crescent moon until Friday - or possibly Saturday. Devious.

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#45
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 1:06 PM

A neat trick I learned as a kid was bending at the waist and looking at the moon through your legs. The upside down view offsets the optical illusion and the large moon looks normal size. Try it in the privacy of your own property you will be surprised.

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#13
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 11:20 AM

"Two small sun visors". Yes - but not all that small, I fear. You need to add the diameter of your eyes' pupils and also to take account of near-to-axis scattering - both in the atmosphere and at your windscreen. (Is it also worth bearing in mind the eye-damage that has been known to occur during eclipses due to looking at the sun's corona without protection? Question because I suppose this would be less of a problem when the eye is adapted for normal ambient light).

Fyz

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#33
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 8:06 AM

"That means that you could have a really tiny sun visor on your car if the visor could track the sun's relative position automatically."

Never mind the two aspirin!

An far better eye protective device when driving into the rising or setting sun is two #11 or #10 welders helment protective filters mounted on the bottom edge of the vehicle's sun visor. You can see traffic close to the sun as well as having eye protection!

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#7

Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 4:26 AM

The aspirin.

Further to the perception argument - the reason it appears bigger when low in the sky also has something to do with the way our brains compare sizes, using perspective. At the horizon, there are items with which to compare the moon's size (trees/houses etc) and we know that objects further away appear smaller than they actually are, so when the moon appears to be the same size as the house we see miles away, we "calculate" how much bigger than the house it really is. When it's overhead, there's nothing at an (apparantly) comparable distance, so it looks smaller. If you look at the overhead moon through a tree, the tree is too close for your brain to take it into account.

Thanks Jorrie - as ever you educate us.

Sorry about my rambly explanation, my psychology vocab is a little weak, it's early and I have to get to work!

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#11

Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 9:03 AM

The baseball.

Each year that I see the harvest moon I am floored at how much bigger and orange it is than every other full moon during the year.

I've also heard that star gazing with a telescope is best during the Fall (October nights particularly) ..... I always thought it had something to do with the humidity and cold air in Minnesota (not that air isn't cold and less humid elsewhere....I simply wouldn't know about that).

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#12
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 11:05 AM

Boy, have you got long arms! (I'd estimate about 26', but that depends on which axis you are comparing)

Regarding "a good time for astronomy", I think it's the temperature gradients keeping the air still at that time of year. It's possible that high humidity might help the dust to coagulate and fall out, but that is pure speculation on my part (the other effects of high humidity would be mostly adverse).

Fyz

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#18
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 1:42 PM

Boy, have you got long arms

... or perhaps a non-reg smaller ball.

( I can restrain myself occasionaly ! )

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#16

Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 1:35 PM

Hey....I just figured out why the goat and car thing works by switching....

It's because you have a 2 in 3 chance of picking a goat on the first try then when the other goat location is revealed, you're car choice behind the other door is almost assured.....

Therefore, switch every time and you will win 2/3 of the time......

Sorry for the interuption .........

Dwight

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#21
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 4:11 PM

Dang! I thought I finally got away from that "goat" thing, and here it pops up again on a totally different thread!

Sheeesh!

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#22
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 4:45 PM

They are persistent little beggars once they get your scent...

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#24
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 10:21 PM

I do believe Guest says ;

you're car choice behind the other door is almost assured.....

I really don't have the energy. Does one of you have a gun ? Don't answer . I cant take any more of the **^&%^&*** question.

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#27
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 3:34 AM

I always have my pellet gun... I'm just saying.

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#36
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 9:01 AM

I would leave here, but my d&%$#@ AMC Pacer won't start again! I guess I left it too close to the Mississippi River (which was at flood stage last week), on the lower level of a two-level parking garage. Does anyone know why it won't start? <grin>

Do you remember the Pacer? Kind of a bloated Gremlin.

Now where did I leave my Perpetual Motion Machine? Maybe I could use it to jump start the Pacer! If not, I might have to use your pellet gun to put it out of my misery (or is that Missouri?).

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#48
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 3:31 PM

Look at my groovy 'robotic' dancing . I , am waaay tooo fast for ya v !

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#50
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 3:36 PM

St. Vitus puts squirrels at risk - official. The last squirrel I saw dancing like that ended up as a meal for the local cats.

Fyz

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#53
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 3:45 PM

The Tarantella is a request dance. Bring your own spider (and a nickle for me).

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#56
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 4:00 PM

That would be great with the right partner, no Chopin and changing; but I found your reference to bringing a numerically oriented programming language rather off-putting.

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#69
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 4:11 AM

COBOLers sound like a piece of cockney rhyming slang that is actually used. My superbly witty response here , is an oblique reference to an oblique posting in an oblique manner. .

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#73
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 4:38 AM

Then perhaps it's time we had some acute replies....

I'll get my coat...

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#82
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 5:07 AM

.... hope you're not looking for new material . I am kinda cute , I admit.

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#25

Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/14/2007 11:17 PM

Bottle Cap

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#31

Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 6:29 AM

The aspirin, but I had to figure it mathematically.

By the way, no one so far has suggested a simple experiment. When the moon is well overhead, take a piece of glass and hold it so that it reflects the moon and you can view the horizon through it. This would separate physical effects from perceptual effects.

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#32

Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 7:13 AM

The answer is bottle cap. Or easier, the tip of your thumb. Reference: the movie "Apollo 13"

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#34
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 8:11 AM

Reference: the movie "Apollo 13"

I don't think Tom Hanks was looking at the Harvest Moon when he used his thumb as a measurment of the moon size. The Harvest Moon is larger than normal full moons.... Therefore, the baseball

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#202
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/22/2007 2:52 PM

Guest -

I'm not familiar with that scene. But if the moon was thumb-sized, I suspect that Apollo 13 was already half-way to the moon!

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#37

Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 10:22 AM

Try this one, When you notice the moon looks very large on the horizon....Turn around, bend over, and look through your legs. Now your brain dosnt think it needs to be larger because of the distance, so it will shrink it to its normal size. Neat trick, but you look funny doing it.

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#47
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 3:22 PM

Maybe it looks smaller when the blood runs to your head!

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#43

Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 12:26 PM

Wow, was I wrong! I told my kids that the moon looks 3 times bigger at the horizon because the atmosphere magnifies the image. My daughter argued, saying they looked the same! The pictures in the link of 1.5 times larger at the horizon look about right where I live now. I grew up with mountains to the east, and i think the moon looked bigger then when it just came over the mountains. I agree with others that it looks bigger when yellower and smaller when whiter.

Holding an aspirin at arms length to compare won't work very well because your eyes are above your shoulder joint, so the aspirin will be closer to your eye when looking up than looking at the horizon. You would need a sextant or a "pinhole camera" to compare the images.

Pictures taken with a telephoto lens make the moon look a lot bigger because it is so far away compared to the other things in the photograph.

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#46

Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 2:53 PM

Hi,

I'm a newbie at this, so bear with me, please.

All light bending aside, could one moved directly away from the august moon (or toward it) at a speed such that no change in size would be apparent to the un-assisted human eye?

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#49
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 3:33 PM

I remember that as a child I thought the moon appeared larger when you were going towards it in a car* than when the car was stationary. So, yes, the illusion is enhanced by forwards motion - at least for some people.

*This was a rare event in the UK at that time (aah)

Fyz

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#52
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 3:42 PM

A lot of peoples cars in the UK sport fluffy dice dangling in the window !

My previous , more sane , post on this is below.

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#51
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 3:39 PM

Hi Shorinji ,

Are you referring to the fact that the moon is not a constant distance from the Earth ? ( and therefor , could you move to try and keep the distance to yourself constant ) . I have no idea , but I love the question ! I can't wait to see en answer to this -It's a great suggestion. I think it must be possible for a limited time , and I wonder how far you'd have to move etc. Wow

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#54
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 3:50 PM

If that's the meaning, you only need to rely on the rotation of the Earth - the movement of the Earth's surface* (other than near the poles) is always faster than the rate of approach/recession of the moon to/from the Earth. So you can do this once in every twenty-four hours (approximately).

Fyz

* Roughly 1000 mph near the equator

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#55
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 3:59 PM

Yeah, wow!

I think it would be a different speed in different years . . . unless you subscribe to the theory/fact that the earth rotation is slowing.

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#58
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 4:05 PM

You just rely on the angle of your movement relative to the moon's approach or departure. So the relative motion is sideways about twice in each full rotation of the Earth. But you could only actually see a constant distance once a day, because the ground is in the way the other time. (As you are going in a circle, the only requirement is that you are going fast enough). Now I'm all in a spin...

Fyz

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#70
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 4:20 AM

.... let me help . The moons path (around the sun ) is always concave relative to the sun (sort of like the profile of a gear wheel , but inverted ). Patrick Moore will clarify if needs be.

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#78
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 5:02 AM

That's just a bit too helpful

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#57

Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 4:03 PM

Watta great blog!

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#61

Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/15/2007 7:07 PM

Well! As the exact details are noticably left out, my answer would be the Baseball. Why? Well never was it said that the other objects were held up such to represent their 'round side. For instance, a football, a beer can, a bottle cap and an aspirin could potencially be held up with a profile that is not round. However, a baseball is a sphere and its atidude would and can only be round shaped. The others are not. That is of course I know what a harvest moon is. I have a pretty good idea but was never interested that much. Live from Toronto Canada, Planet Earth, it was the Ashman! PS when I posted this it said 59 entries. I assume we can't see the others? I didn't anyway. bye!

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#64
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 12:29 AM

Hi Ashman, have you worked out the angular size of a baseball held at arms length?

I think we all assumed that the flat objects would be oriented so that they appear spherical. Otherwise, it makes no sense.

-J

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#71
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 4:31 AM

Footballs are spherical.

Oh...are you American? That explains it. Like Rugby, American Football is played by men with funny shaped balls.

Jorrie - I know it's pedantic, but don't you mean that we all assumed the objects would be held up so that we saw their circular elevation?

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#83
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 5:11 AM

The balls were deflated , the can and cap were scrunched up. I'd take an asparin if I were you !

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#84
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 5:15 AM

Looks like the squirrel's been sniffing the pixie dust again. Who's up for squirrel stew?

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#85
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 5:39 AM

'pixie dust' google great ! I'm all for fractals. I thought the stuff no-brainers try to cram up the nose as a replacement.

You can try a stew or something if you like . That recipe is horrible - look at the list of pinched ingredients ! I'd sooner have a roasted McSalad with creme anglaise.

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#86
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 7:31 AM

You would have thought that Vermin would have more sympathy for a fellow outcast!

That recipe was obviously generated by another squirrel as high-school project in risk amelioration. Nearly everything except the squirrel from cans! Yuk. Squirrel can taste a bit rank, but that's no way to solve the problem. (I'm told you need to be especially careful when preparing US based squirrels)

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#87
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 7:36 AM

Survival of the fittest - whichever of them shows weakness (pity, sympathy) first, will be eliminated by the other. Not that that would be a bad thing...they are, after all, both vermin!

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#88
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 7:48 AM

Not ... a bad thing...
Do you include red squirrels in this? And what about genetic diversity?

Fyz

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#91
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 8:44 AM

British (Red) squirrels aren't known for eating their way through house wiring etc. (although that could just be because there are so few of them and they live in remote areas) so I'm not sure if they are classed as vermin.

The introduction of the American (grey) squirrel has reduced the population size of the British (or should that be European?) squirrel; in the 1970s almost to the point of collapse. That wouldn't have done much for biodiversity!

Question: If rats were rare, would they become a protected species?

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#95
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 9:07 AM

I hate to think how cramped it must be where you live, ER: "they live in remote areas"

Population: 448,624 (2001 Census)

but we do still have space for our furry friends!(bottom of page)

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#96
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 9:48 AM

LOL - guess I fell for the "they only live in pine forests in the far north of Scotland (oh and three of them have migrated to Wales)" publicity!

What I meant was they're no longer widespread throughout the UK.

As for cramped, ol' yellerbelly county has one of the lowest population densities in England (but it's so flat!).

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#100
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 10:10 AM

I was looking out for you as I drove past on Saturday - return journey was slowed by a detour via Melton Mowbray. I didn't know there were still single track roads that far south. But where are the passing places?

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#101
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 10:20 AM

There are passing places on Ingham Narrows...but they're the only ones I know of in the county - if you want southern passing places, try Devon - single track roads with 4' high banks & 6' of hedge above that! Very nearly sunken lanes!

It seems the Yellowbellies (I'm not native to here) find a) using field entrances or b) driving on the verge suitable solutions to the problem of oncoming traffic - mind you with the low pop-d, that doesn't often happen

Oh - did you find the single track roads with gravel and grass growing through the tarmac? Our bike group leader specialises in finding these on the weekly run-out...

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#104
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 10:48 AM

"Oh - did you find the single track roads with gravel and grass growing through the tarmac?"

Exactly the kind! - and with detourers coming the other way, as well! Made for some "enjoyable" driving.

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#106
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 10:58 AM

I have to point out though, that Melton Mowbray (of pork pie fame) is actually in Leicestershire, not Lincolnshire. I take it the detour brought you into this fair county? If you used the Ermine (or Ermine Street), I could have waved back.

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#107
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 11:03 AM

Where did that stoat come from - are you hoping it will deal with the rodent population?

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#108
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Re: Harvest Moon: Newsletter Challenge (05/15/07)

05/16/2007 11:07 AM

Eradication of vermin! We've lots of Rat Traps (cue singing) around the site at the moment, but the rats don't see bothered - one ran across in front of the car this morning. Healthy looking creature, much more so than its country cousins I usually see.

How do you tell the difference between a stoat and a weasel?

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