Watch out for fake moons

This is a screen grab from a video of a gigantic moon rising in the arctic!

HOUSTON – I have to admit: I wish this one was real.

The huge moon eclipsing the sun somewhere around the north pole went viral crazy last week looking something like you’d see in a “Star Wars” movie on another planet. The descriptor even read like a movie-trailer: “Imagine that you are in a place between Russia and Canada in the Arctic during the day, where there is 24-hour daylight in the summertime. At a certain time, the Moon appears for 30 seconds just above the horizon - which explains it’s enormous size - and after it covers the Sun for about 5 seconds - it disappears again! A completely fall-to-the-knees moment!”

Here’s what everyone was mooning about. Go here to see it.

My general rule of thumb on social media videos is that if the first thing you want to do is show it to somebody else, then it’s probably fake. This moon looked close enough for the cow to jump over it.

To that point, the moon is on average 250,000 miles away. Even when its orbit brings it closer to Earth, it’s still 221,702 miles from us (this year that happens on Dec. 4). Every so often, that close distance, called perigee, occurs when the moon is full and it’s known as a Super Moon. But not a Superman Moon like this one!

There are other tells: no spinning of the moon itself, no reflection in that lake, and--let’s face it--the topography looks more like Arizona than the arctic tundra. This moon mirage has been credited to a Russian Tik Tok user called Aleksey___nx. Still, it’s fun.

So what is real?

There is a nice Partial Lunar Eclipse at 3am Friday morning and with clear skies forecast we should be able to see that pretty easily. The Earth comes between the Moon and Sun casting its shadow on the moon. That give the moon a darkish, copper tone (sometimes called a Blood Moon). Here’s the timeline:

Enjoy, Sleepyhead!

KPRC2 morning meteorologist Anthony Yanez wrote a great blog about this yesterday and you should definitely take a look here for some fascinating information, how to watch, and when our next one will be. By the way, this is the longest partial lunar eclipse in nearly 600 years!

I love the moon--even when it’s fake. Enjoy!


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About the Authors:

KPRC 2's chief meteorologist with three decades of experience forecasting Houston's weather.

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.