We were driving home from visiting relatives this evening, and noticed a dull orange ellipse on the horizon, appearing and disappearing between trees. It didn’t take long to realize it was the moon, just beginning to rise.

As the freeway twisted and turned, and we went through areas full of houses, retail centers, and trees, we lost and regained sight of it. The moon illusion was in full effect, making it look huge, plus the bottom edge was flattened, just like the sun at sunset—only you can look at the moon much longer. (Well, except when you’re driving.)

It rose through a bank of clouds or haze, climbing through dark bands, and slowly turned from orange to yellow, then turned paler. By the time we got home at 10:00, it had assumed its normal circular shape (with a tiny bit shaved from the upper right, since it was a day past full), and didn’t look particularly bigger than usual.

We don’t get to see the moon so close to the horizon very often. For one thing there are mountains to the east, but more importantly there are buildings all around. As we saw with the drive home, it doesn’t take much height to block the horizon from view. By the time we got home, roughly an hour past moonrise, it was just visible over the tops of the nearby buildings from our balcony.

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