Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lunar Pareidolia Test

Everyone has heard of the "Man in the Moon", but have you ever looked for it?  The full moon is coming up on Sunday, so as a preview, lets talk about what you might see.  Pareidolia is a phenomenon of a vague or diffuse stimulus being detected as something more concrete - say detecting familiar shapes in clouds or shapes on the moon, outlined by the dark maria and lighter highlands.  I've never been able to see a man's face in the moon's features, but have 3 distinct figures I can perceive. 

Shown here is an image of the moon taken during May, 2012 "Supermoon" when its orbit brought it closest to the earth that year.  It was taken with a 5" Celestron with my Canon XSi camera.  There is nothing remarkable other than it was a little larger than normal, and I use it here to demonstrate the shapes you might detect.  North is upwards in this image.  Just about the strongest shape I've always seen is of a rabbit, that is visible from the crescent shape onwards to full moon in the upper right hand of the moon.  I use my primitive tracing skills to form the outline at right...

The next shape I regularly make out as the phase
nears full is a profile of  Lucy van Pelt - yes, the little girl from the Peanuts comic strip!  Just as a reminder, at left she is shown in profile and at right, the same picture from above using Photoshop to outline the face.  I think it is a dead ringer of her - few, if anyone wears their hair in such a similar hairstyle.  And what is remarkable with this view is the bright rayed crater Tycho near the bottom serves as a diamond necklace!

The last one for this session is another "old timey" shape, which to me looks like a woman reading a book!  It is best seen if the moon is rotated CCW so the figure is more upright, but is shown at left.  She appears to be wearing an old-fashioned floor-length dress and sports a long ponytail as she reads.

Perhaps I only see females in the moon 'cause I'm male.  Of course the song "Heavenly" by Harry Connick Jr. says "The Man in the Moon is smiling 'cause he's in love with the girl in the world." 

I'm sure there are shapes that I've not outlined, but those are the ones I see.  From the first link above, there are toads, dragons, and a full-sized rabbit that reaches across the moon that I don't detect, even with a shaded guide.  What were these people thinking???  If I've missed any of your favorites, please feel free to let me know!


James said...

Very good. I never saw a rabbit om the moon until now, nor the other things, so this presentation was very helpful!

Anonymous said...

On Your lunar Pareidolia test if you combine your first rabbit with lucy's face, you will see that is is the ancient face and bunned up hair of the goddess Diana, the huntress who usually hunted by the moon.
This is the exact same Diana the greek sailors lored about.
I am surprised you did not know this. I never see the man in the moon anymore since long ago someone showed me the cameo side view of Diana's beautiful face and hair.

Val said...

Look at the dark, circular patch at bottom, centre. Lift your gaze upwards till you see a dark shape that looks like the outline of the base of a nose. Look further up to two dark patches that resemble squarish bushy eyebrows. Below those are two smaller patches, resembling eyes. Lean back and squint a little and you will see a bald headed male face, a clown, maybe, his mouth making an O shape. The man in the moon!
I always see Diana also. Thank you for pointing out Lucy, and the rabbit!