A simple way of demonstrating that the effect is an illusion is to hold a small pebble say, 0. Then, when the seemingly very large Moon is on the horizon, the same pebble will also cover it, revealing that there has been no change in the size of the Moon, because the pebble will still cover the Moon. Between different full moons, the Moon's angular diameter can vary from The size of a viewed object can be measured objectively either as an angular size the visual angle that it subtends at the eye, corresponding to the proportion of the visual field that it occupies , or as physical size its real size measured in, say, meters.
Perceived size is only loosely related to these concepts, however. Conversely, if the more distant object did subtend the same angle as the nearer object then we would normally perceive it to be twice as big. One question concerning the Moon illusion, therefore, is whether the horizon Moon appears larger because its perceived angular size seems greater, or because its perceived physical size seems greater, or some combination of both. There is currently no consensus on this point. Most recent research on the Moon illusion has been conducted by psychologists specializing in human perception.
The book The Moon Illusion , edited by Hershenson, offers about 24 chapters written by various illusion researchers reaching different conclusions.
After reviewing the many different explanations in their book The Mystery of the Moon Illusion , Ross and Plug conclude "No single theory has emerged victorious". The most important factor is the sight of the terrain, but there is a small contribution from other factors such as the angle of regard, posture and eye movements. Ptolemy attempted to explain the Moon illusion through atmospheric refraction in the Almagest , and later in the Optics as an optical illusion due to apparent distance ,   or the difficulty of looking upwards, although interpretations of the account in the Optics are disputed.
Through additional works by Roger Bacon , John Pecham , Witelo , and others based on Ibn al-Haytham's explanation, the Moon illusion came to be accepted as a psychological phenomenon in the 17th century.
An apparent distance theory evidently was first clearly described by Cleomedes around A. The theory proposes that the horizon Moon looks larger than the zenith Moon because it looks farther away. Ibn al-Haytham was more specific.
When the Moon Is Low
His argument was that judging the distance of an object depends on there being an uninterrupted sequence of intervening bodies between the object and the observer; however, since there are no intervening objects between the Earth and the Moon, the perceived distance is too short and the Moon appears smaller than on the horizon. However, there are probably complex internal processes behind this relationship.
In , Schopenhauer wrote about this, that the Moon illusion is "purely intellectual or cerebral and not optical or sensuous. If we perceive the Moon to be in the general vicinity of the other things we see in the sky, we would expect it to also recede as it approaches the horizon, which should result in a smaller retinal image.
But since its retinal image is approximately the same size whether it is near the horizon or not, our brains, attempting to compensate for perspective , assume that a low Moon must be physically larger. Extensive experiments in by Kaufman and Rock showed that a crucial causative factor in the illusion is a change in the pattern of cues to distance, comparable to the Ponzo illusion. The horizon Moon is perceived to be at the end of a stretch of terrain receding into the distance, accompanied by distant trees, buildings and so forth, all of which indicate that it must be a long way away, while these cues are absent from the zenith moon.
Experiments by many other researchers have found the same result; namely, when pictorial cues to a great distance are subtracted from the vista of the large-looking horizon Moon it looks smaller. When pictorial cues to an increased distance are added into the vista of the zenith Moon, it appears larger.
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Most of the rest say it looks larger and about the same distance away as the zenith Moon, with a few people reporting no Moon illusion at all. However, the response that the horizon Moon appears larger, but not closer than the zenith Moon could be because the viewer's logic confounds his or her perception; because the viewer knows that the Moon can't possibly be physically farther away, he or she is not consciously aware of the perception. This is reinforced by the idea that we do not consciously perceive distance and size, as spatial awareness is a subconscious, retino cortical cognition.
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In line with the possibility that the reported distance of the Moon is due to logic, rather than perception, is the finding that these varying reports--with some reporting closer distances and others not--are likely due to response biases . Nevertheless, the apparent distance explanation is the one most often found in textbooks. Historically, the best-known alternative to the "apparent distance" theory has been a "relative size" theory. This states that the perceived size of an object depends not only on its retinal size, but also on the size of objects in its immediate visual environment.
In the case of the Moon illusion, objects in the vicinity of the horizon Moon that is, objects on or near the horizon exhibit a fine detail that makes the Moon appear larger, while the zenith Moon is surrounded by large expanses of empty sky that make it appear smaller. The effect is illustrated by the classic Ebbinghaus illusion , where a circle appears larger when surrounded by smaller circles, than it does when surrounded by larger circles.
According to the "angle of regard" hypothesis, the Moon illusion is produced by changes in the position of the eyes in the head accompanying changes in the angle of elevation of the Moon. Though once popular, this explanation no longer has much support. Raising the eyes or tilting the head when in an upright posture gives only a very small reduction in the illusion. Immanuel Kant refers to the Moon illusion in his text Critique of Pure Reason , when he writes that "the astronomer cannot prevent himself from seeing the moon larger at its rising than some time afterwards, although he is not deceived by this illusion".
Moon illusion - Wikipedia
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