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A Square Moon!

March 24, 2011

SpaceWeather.com ran the following today, March 24, 2010.  It is a picture of the moon as seen in Alaska through a unique set of atmospheric conditions.  Every day SpaceWeather.com runs great pictures and snippets about our solar system.  Check it out daily for cool stuff like a picture of a square moon!

“SQUARE SUPER MOON: Like so many other people around the world, James Helmericks of Alaska went outside on the evening of March 19th to watch the super perigee Moon rise in the east. “Imagine my surprise,” he says, “when I saw that it was almost square.” He took this picture from the Colville River Delta on Alaska’s north slope:

Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley explains what happened: “This is a very strong mirage produced by rays bent while crossing intense vertical temperature gradients between a layer of cold air beneath warmer air. The lunar disk details are vertically stretched, suggesting that the mirage is part of a fabled Fata Morgana. If we could see distant mountains they would likely be distorted into fantastical vertically elongated shapes resembling castles and tall spires. The high Arctic is famous for these mirages.”  “

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