Full Moon Party and Beyond
Blog on the parties of Koh Phangan
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The Moon Illusion

Why the moon seems bigger in real life

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Full Moon in Thong Nai Pan

After gazing with a sense of awe at the moon’s size during the Full Moon Party people often get back home and develop the photos of their holiday or see them on their computer or mobile devices and they will often feel disappointed. Why is that?

One of the reasons maybe that the moon seems smaller than people imagine it was when dancing the night away. Intoxication aside, the reason for this is known as the ‘moon illusion’. It is an optical illusion that makes the full moon look bigger than it really is. It is an illusion because a photograph clearly shows the real size of the moon.

Scientists believe that the moon illusion is created by other objects on the horizon. These objects send signals to our brain giving information about estimated distances of the objects surrounding the moon. The information from nearer objects fools our perceptions into thinking the moon is closer than it really is. As a result, the moon seems bigger to our eyes than it really is. Although the moon is on a less cluttered canvas on Haad Rin Beach when it is near the horizon the sea below also triggers the moon illusion.

This theory has an interesting implication. It means that the full moon, when the moon is at its full strength, does indeed have a psychological influence on people. In a very small way this is proof that the full moon does affect our behavior.

Another pertinent point in this theme is that the dogs in Koh Phangan act differently during the night of the full moon. I can say from experience that the dogs on a Koh Phangan beach, most of whom belong to packs of dogs associated with hotels, bars and other businesses all become unsettled during the full moon. As the night goes on you can hear continual skirmishes of dogs accompanied by barks and howls. I cannot think that anything other than the moon’s influence can explain this monthly event.

So beware of the full moon – it can play tricks on the brain!