Curiosities: Why do we feel that The Moon is following us when we move?

May 29, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

When I was a child, rather than playing with gadgets individually as children do today, my friends and I used to play together or with nature. I remember that we used to race against The Moon and we, of course, always won. Years later, this situation made me think about this curiosity: Why is The Moon behind us when we are walking? Why is The Moon following you when you are seeing it from a moving vehicle?

To start with, the truth is that The Moon is not “following you”. This wrong perception comes from a fact that can be explained with one word: Distance.

When you are moving, there are many objects close to you and inside your visual angle. These objects are used as parameters to judge distance and that’s why you are well aware that you walk past a particular object and it is then behind you. Besides, when an object is near you, it can be seen from different angles, which lets you know its position clearly. This situation does not happen with The Moon for two reasons: First, The Moon is an average of 238,855 miles (384,400 km) away from you without other things to be compared with it for size reasons and second, you cannot see it from different angles because of distance. These two factors give us the wrong impression that The Moon remains in one spot and begins to move right along with us when we move.

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