15 August 2008

Bizarre observations from normal videos

There's a couple videos making the rounds right now where a woman observes some natural phenomenon and makes really bizarre conclusions. Although these are posted by two different people, I believe they were originally made by the same person - the rainbow link is a reposting, the Moon one appears to be the original person if you glance at some of her other videos, but I don't see the rainbow among them.

The Rainbow DiHydrogen Monoxide Conspiracy

This was discussed by the Bad Astronomer, and I didn't have the desire to view it then, but will now. If anyone here really does need an explanation of this "freaky unnatural rainbow sprinkler, since light isn't naturally a rainbow," in short, whenever there's a fine mist (such as clouds, or spray from a waterfall, or from a sprinkler) in front of you, and a source of continuum light (usually the Sun) behind you, the light bounces around inside the mist droplets and comes back out as a rainbow. A similar effect can be seen with ice particles in clouds around the Moon at night - since it's ice, the way the light bounces is different so you'll see the ring around the Moon instead of in the opposite direction.

The statement "This cannot be natural, it didn't happen 20 years ago," is simply an indication that 20 years ago she was not as observant as she is now, and in fact if she had been listening in school 30 years ago, she might even know "what the hell is going on".

The Moon is Broken

What's happening to the Moon in this video is known as earthshine. The Moon appears bright because light from the Sun bounces off the Moon and into our eyes. If you were standing on that part of the Moon you'd see a bright Sun in the sky. The other side appears dark usually b/c no light is bouncing off of it. Sometimes we can actually see the "dark" side due to reflected light from the Earth - light from the Sun bounces off the Earth, then off the Moon and into our eyes. If you were standing on the Moon there you'd see a bright Earth in the sky, much like the Full Moon looks bright to us here.

As for her last comment in the video ("The Moon seems awfully low for this time of year"), it's not actually the time of year that matters, it's the phase of the Moon. The crescent Moon is never far from the Sun in the sky, so it makes perfect sense for the waxing crescent Moon to set right after sunset.

While this woman's conclusions are entirely bizarre, I have to applaud her observational skills, and her desire to learn what caused these various effects. There are many more people out there with even more bizarre ideas in their heads, but they never bother to look up or around themselves, and thus have no hope of ever leaving their strange little worlds. This woman at least has a chance.

1 comment:

Matt said...

Ya I have noticed this rainbow phenomenon but to be honest I think it is made by the same processes as regular rainbows. After all you only see rainbows with damp weather such as after rain, so it probably explains that.

Although I have also seen rainbows simply with light, which is explained by lights rainbow properties (such as the prism scenario).