Goose Moon II – More Goose, Less Moon, Cameos, All Sequel!

Click for full-sized image.

September 26th, 2019, 06:57 a.m. local time

A post so awesome, it deserves a sequel!

Last year we brought you Goose Moon, a powerful albeit random image of migratory geese flying past the daytime Moon.  One year later, the geese are back, and probably in greater numbers than ever before!

Some sequels are worth the effort.  A few are even better than the original.  Many sequels just keep going and going as owners continue their trek to squeeze ever more money out of them (reference Star Wars).  But before we reach Goose Moon IX, let’s check out today’s image, which occurred much along the same lines as last year’s original production.

With a clear sky to the East, I wanted to take a few quick snaps, to later try to find the late Waning Moon just past Sunrise within the images.  As I was taking pictures, something most unexpected happened, as a flock of geese flew by.  I kept “filming,” taking more pictures, realizing that a sequel was about to be born.

Unlike last year’s Goose Moon, this is a smartphone image, whereas the original was via a DSLR camera on tripod, as a planned shot (though there was no planning for the geese).  The Moon was in a very different phase as well.

Here we see far more geese as they flew into the East.  I wonder where they were going?

If you’re having trouble finding the Moon, look towards the top of the image.  Still cannot find it?  Here is a closeup hint:

Yes, this is about as small of a Waning Crescent that you could find, especially after daybreak.

And no sequel is complete without new characters.  Most prominent is the Sun, which you can see easily at the bottom.  There is also a lurking cameo of Mars, above the Sun, but it cannot be seen.  Likely, if this picture were taken via a digital camera on tripod with a decent lens, Mars could have been extracted from a raw digital image.

If you enjoyed this sequel, be sure to leave a review!  And don’t forget to stop by in 2020 for Goose Moon III: Rise of the Gas Giants.

Do you believe in the oversized Moon?

We’ve all seen them.  The grand illuminated orb above the New York evening skyline.  Mountains at dusk in front of the mountain-sized Moon.  The lunar disc reflecting its silhouette upon the ocean, horizon to horizon.

With some well-planned exceptions, all of these scenes are phony.

There must be a romantic need to enlarge the Moon far beyond its correct size as perceived from Earth.  Television and movies have a tendency increase the Moon’s size when it fits artistic goals.

This is not to disparage photographers who carefully set up a proportional perspective shot of the Moon, for example, to frame a horizon or even people within the Moon’s disc.  But these true images are difficult to create and involve long distances and almost telescopic lenses.

My guess is that nearly all enlarged Moons are highly edited and possibly false.  Let’s run through a few exercises to show the correct Moon size versus equivalents with embellished interpretations.

To create an enlarged Moon template, I used my Full Moon photo from September 13th.  This picture was taken with my digital camera and 300mm lens. Outside of some post-processing for sharpness, contrast, and brightness, it is unedited.

Our Baseline Full Moon

Let’s take three examples.  We’ll go all the way back in time to 2017.  This was from my Halloween post of that year, where the Moon was masked by an interesting cloud pattern.

Halloween Moon 2017, proportionally correct.

Here is the same picture, but now with my Moon from last Friday inserted. I tinkered with the brightness and gelled the Moon into the clouds:

Phony, edited Moon scene.

Our next example is a smartphone picture from August 2017 of clouds and the daytime Moon.  The Moon was a little past its Quarter Phase.

Clouds and Moon, August 2017.

I had some fun with this one and blew the Moon up far more.  I didn’t correct for the change in blue sky light, but did move the coloring towards grey to try to mimic the daytime Moon a bit:

Phony, edited Moon scene.

If the Moon were truly this close to Earth, we wouldn’t be here.  I am no scientist, but I have a good hunch the lunar gravitational pull would create extraordinary tides and tectonic instability.  I doubt human civilization could have been cultivated in such an environment, with only small land plant life flourishing on the surface.

My final example is an early crescent Moon from November 2017.  The framing from multiple trees shows the relatively small size of the Moon as it dipped towards the horizon that evening.

Moon after Sunset, November 2017.

Unless Jupiter explodes into a star soon, the Moon will never be Full in the West at Sunset!  But again just for fun, I airbrushed out the real Moon and inserted the baseline template.  Like the previous phony pic, if you ever saw the Moon this large in the sky, something would be seriously wrong!

Phony, edited Moon scene.

I promise that my next Moon post will feature all objects at their correct proportions.

Why I Stopped Watching “Doctor Who”

Here is another tangent from my normal postings, but if you bear with me for a few paragraphs more, I promise to tie it back to astronomy.

I was, or I guess still am, a lifelong Doctor Who fan, though I stopped watching the series over a year ago.  Apparently, a new Doctor actor was recently selected, which brings the series back to mind.

That this character could change physical shape and still be the same person was a brilliant way to keep the series alive for well past 50 years, minus about 15 years hiatus.  We always felt a connection to the Doctor, the same person, no matter who the actor.

When I was young, I wondered what his last regeneration would be like, specifically his thirteenth (since Time Lords could regenerate twelve times).  What would the Doctor be like, facing his own mortality?  I thought they would be fascinating tales, to explore how such a long-lived character would react to and reconcile the approach of his final, impending death.  Those potential stories, well into the future, captured my imagination.

The future and its potential never arrived, though, and probably never will.  My Doctor Who bubble burst upon the absurd twist that the Doctor was now on his final regeneration early, “War Doctor” notwithstanding, and that the Time Lords, now deities, could bestow the gift of eternal life.  The show kind of ended for me then as I realized there would be no final contemplation on the Doctor’s life and death beyond the terribly superficial rampant in “sci-fi” and fantasy today.

I and all longtime fans were robbed of this chance to learn the Doctor’s closing narrative.  There will never be a final chapter now that the canonical nature of regenerations has been sent to oblivion.  Once the Doctor would have passed, a successor could have certainly stepped in, be it a descendant, partner, or some other Time Lordy-type entity.  The entertainment industry does not like death, beyond the ability to jump-start characters back to life.  You cannot sell commercials or movie tickets when the best characters are forever dead in their fictitious realities.  And so characters keep coming back on screen, compliments of genesis worlds, alternative timelines, and pagan mercy.

It is unfortunate that death is rarely explored sufficiently in genres related to science fiction, especially for the most beloved characters.  The quest to understand, particularly the heavens, is intrinsically linked to the cosmos’s truth that all things expire in this universe.  Stars form and fade, spectacularly at times. Planets are born and live, but will either burn up or crash into bigger objects, eventually.  The energy of the universe will expire someday, when all stars have burned out and there are no light elements left, no hydrogen nor helium, sufficient to form new ones.

These are wonderful philosophical matters to ponder.  It is just unfortunate that our society goes to such lengths to impede this exploration, be it light pollution blocking our night skies or through pulp stories watched on television.