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The Moon

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Abu Loren View Drop Down
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    Posted: 10 June 2014 at 12:11pm
Asalaamu Alaikum

I currently live in Sharjah, UAE.

About a week ago, I was sitting on the beach with a friend and we arrived at around 10pm and left around midnight. Sometime in between this time my friend suddenly said "hey I wonder why there are only a few stars visible here". I said "Yea man really strange as if we go anywhere else in the world the sky would be littered with stars, like the sands on the sea shore".

Then towards the end he said "did you notice the moon how it was overhead when we got here and how it's disappearing over the horizon. How is that possible within two hours?"

Then just three days later we were at the same beach and the moon this time hardly moved at all within the same time period.

Can any scientific types here please explain this phenomenon?
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airmano View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote airmano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 June 2014 at 1:39pm
I'm rather surprised that you are seeking for a scientific explanation, it's not in your usual style !

To the point: Motions of celestial bodies in our solar systems can be calculated quite precisely over long periods of time: http:///farside.ph.utexas.edu/teaching/336k/Newtonhtml/node133.html . I would even dare to say that it was the real starting point of mathematical physics thanks to good old  Isac Newton (puh!).
An unpredicted change in speed (of the moon) has never been measured so I would start with the assumption that the moons orbit (speed) is not the true cause of your observation (I have also many reasons based on physics to assume so).

However, you insinuate that the moon may have moved at different speeds at the two respective evenings, so I have to defend my theory.
There are many possible cases that could explain your observation in line with my assumption: Your wrist watches went wrong, you didn't read them of correctly - or even not at all, the moon was at a different elevations and so on.

Harder proof for my theory comes from outside however: If the moon had changed it's course all of a sudden:
- Thousands of (hobby) astronomers would have noticed.
- Tidal waves would have been out of phase, thus tidal power stations would not have worked correctly anymore.
- Even GPS systems would have been subject to errors due to the (wrong) relativistic corrections of the gravitational effects caused by the moon.
- Personally I work at an electron accelerator facility, where tidal effects coming from the moon have to be compensated for - what would have gone seriously wrong in this case.

I could make this list much longer but the real point here is, that all these changes (coming from the variation in the moons orbit) would have been detected synchronously. In case of a single isolated event you can still argue about similar explanations as the one I gave you at the beginning (like the clock), but that all measurements/observations coming from simultaneous uncorrelated observations worldwide would not have detected this change  is something I'd call inconceivable or "hard evidence" (you understand my little allusion towards the Quran here, do you ?)
Since there has been no change in the moons cycle recently and detected by the methods I just mentioned, I'm sure that something "went wrong" at your place - on the beach- and not in the orbit of the moon.

Airmano



Edited by airmano - 11 June 2014 at 12:11am
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Ron Webb View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ron Webb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 June 2014 at 3:47pm
I'm not sure what you're asking.  If you're not seeing many stars, it's probably due to clouds or mist or air pollution or light pollution or a dozen other things.  But trust me, the stars are still there. Wink You can see a map of the stars for any location (including Sharjah) and any date/time, past or future, at http://www.skymaponline.net/.

As for the moon, the rise and set times for your location can be found at www.timeanddate.com.  If you have any doubt that these numbers are accurate, you're welcome to check them.  And the moon moves approximately 30 degrees per hour, day or night, winter or summer, regardless of your location.  Again, you can measure that yourself if you want.
Addeenul ‘Aql – Religion is intellect.
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Ron Webb View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ron Webb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 June 2014 at 4:59pm
Actually, I can do a bit better than my earlier post.

Originally posted by Abu Loren Abu Loren wrote:

Then towards the end he said "did you notice the moon how it was overhead when we got here and how it's disappearing over the horizon. How is that possible within two hours?"

Then just three days later we were at the same beach and the moon this time hardly moved at all within the same time period.

It is sometimes reported as an optical illusion that objects in the sky appear to bigger when they are near the horizon than when they are directly overhead.  (It's not something I notice myself, but it seems to be true for many people.)  I suppose that the same would apply to distances, i.e., when the moon is near the horizon it would appear to move farther than when it is overhead.

You didn't give exact dates, but let's assume the two observations were on June 6 and June 9, between 10:00 p.m. and midnight.

On the evening of June 6 the moon set at 12:26 a.m. (technically the following morning), so at midnight you would have observed it near the horizon.  Also, without doing the math (I am terrible at spherical trigonometry), I'd guess you first saw it at about 40 degrees altitude, and it moved roughly diagonally down toward the horizon.

On June 9, the moon would never have been near the horizon, so the distance it moved would have appeared smaller.  Also, it would have been moving more horizontally, and I'm guessing you would be less likely to notice a change in horizontal direction than in vertical height.  Put those two factors together, and it's not too surprising that it would seem to be moving more slowly.
Addeenul ‘Aql – Religion is intellect.
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Abu Loren View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Abu Loren Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 June 2014 at 4:05am
I'm sorry but call me a simpleton but I didn't understand a single word of that.Can you re-word in simple layman's term.

All I know is that one night the moon raced away so quickly and another it was taking it's time.
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Ron Webb View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ron Webb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 June 2014 at 4:42am
I'm saying that the moon was moving at roughly the same speed on both days.  It may have seemed faster on June 6 because (1) it was closer to the horizon and (2) it was moving more vertically rather than horizontally.
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airmano View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote airmano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 June 2014 at 6:03am
Ron Webb
Quote It may have seemed faster on June 6 because (1) it was closer to the horizon and (2) it was moving more vertically rather than horizontally

That is exactly what I wanted to express by:
Quote ...the moon was at a different elevation

BTW: Did you understand the explanation I have given?

Airmano

Edited by airmano - 11 June 2014 at 10:44am
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Abu Loren View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Abu Loren Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 June 2014 at 12:05pm
No because we were at the same location on both nights at roughly at the same time but the moon was at different locations.
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