Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Astronauts on board the space station see 18 Moon rises and Moon sets every day, so they may be used to seeing a sequence like the one above, but it's pretty weird for those of us here on Earth. Italian space traveler Paolo Nespoli took these three picture in January 2011, showing the nearly full Moon rising over the Earth's limb. The Earth's atmosphere bends the light from the Moon, distorting its shape. The part of the Moon nearer the Earth's limb gets bent more than the part away from it, so the Moon looks flattened, and the effect decreases as it rises. You can see this effect here on the Earth's surface, but it's not as strong.  Very cool.

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