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It's A Relative Thingy Again. Help Me Einstein?

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Posted by Robert Garfinkle on September 22, 2001 03:24:52 UTC

I usually park myself over in the "God & Science" forum for the most part, but I do love astronomy and stuff like that. Anyway, there is a local radio station that airs the "StarDate" program daily. I don't know if any of you have heard of StarDate but it's a program run by the University of Texas and the site name is

StarDate is a two minute set of tidbits about our universe/solar system/ planets etc.. They will give little factual snippets out to the listeners everyday. Anyway, I heard a snippet the other day that I could not believe.

The topic was the relative size of the moon/sun, in appearance, vs the position in the sky. They claim that people see the moon/sun as being bigger then it is at the horizon due to the fact that it is rising next to objects on the horizon, like trees and buildings etc. When the moon/sun is up in the sky it appears smaller because there are no objects next to it to base relative size. They claim that the size difference is NOT due to atmospheric conditions at that time. They claim that the sun/moon stays the same size, in appearance all the time. Well frankly I do not believe that at all.

When the sun, at the horizon, appears giant in size, I can put my thumb straight out in front of me and I place my thumb on the inside of one of the edges and I still see a portion of the sun just to the left or the right of where the opposite edge of my thumb is. (I'm saying that I cannot cover the sun/moon completely) When the sun is lets say 90 degrees overhead (is that azimuth) and I do the same the I can cover the sun/moon completely. What are they talking about? were they mis-informed or does my thumb expand and contract as the day progresses?


Einstein Help me.

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