There is a joke:
How many librarians does it take to change a lightbulb?
I don't know, but I could look it up for you.I endeavor to answer all the questions my children have. We write them down and we look the answers up together- even if I do know the answer, often times we go through the process of finding the information. Why? Because I want to raise Information Literate children.
I've decided to make their questions and my answers a little feature here at The Stay at Home Librarian. I got lucky with last night's question and found a suitable answer that wasn't part of Yahoo answers or Wikipedia. While driving home last night from grocery shopping the sunset was beautiful. Ada wanted to know why the sun was orange and big. It seems like a simple question, but it's a multipart question.
Why is the sun(set) orange? I knew this one.
The sunset is orange because the sky is blue.
I am fortunate enough right now to be the mother of a 4 year old who will accept this answer, but I did find a resource on the scientific answer behind it, but it also includes a project that we're going to do to illustrate the answer! (This is called Evidence Based Answer)
Science Made Simple
Sky in a jar
What you need:
- a clear, straight-sided drinking glass, or clear plastic or glass jar
- water, milk, measuring spoons, flashlight
- a darkened room
- Fill the glass or jar about 2/3 full of water (about 8 - 12 oz. or 250 - 400 ml)
- Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon (2 - 5 ml) milk and stir.
- Take the glass and flashlight into a darkened room.
- Hold the flashlight above the surface of the water and observe the water in the glass from the side. It should have a slight bluish tint. Now, hold the flashlight to the side of the glass and look through the water directly at the light. The water should have a slightly reddish tint. Put the flashlight under the glass and look down into the water from the top. It should have a deeper reddish tint.
The second part of her question was why it looked so big?
I think the answer is because it's on the horizon but I didn't know why it looked bigger on the horizon. Consulting web sources, there seem to be some disagreement as to why. None of the explanations came from very reliable sources, so I did an advanced google search limiting my results to domains that end in .gov and then .edu to be sure that I could get some of the most reliable information on the web. The answer is that it is an optical illusion. The sun and moon both seem larger on the horizon. As a keyword in your search use "moon illusion".
There are some great evidence based experiments you could try to prove it.
What causes moon illusion? I don't know. And neither, does it seem, does anyone else. It's a great source of debate. It has been raging since the time of Aristotle. There are lots (8 in the most recent book published) of different hypothesis and explanations, and even at least one scholarly article. Personally, I see God's hand in the unexplainable, especially as it concerns something so beautiful as the setting sun and rising moon.
- "To convince yourself that this is, in fact, an optical illusion, put your head between your legs and look at the Sun upside down when it's on the horizon: it should look the same as it does when overhead."
- Cameras don't catch it. To prove that it is an illusion- try to photograph it.
- Look at the moon through a tube
NASA Science News
The Moon Illusion