# Why does the earth look so small in pictures taken from the moon, but the moon looks so big to us while on earth?

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It seems like all of the pictures taken from the moon show earth as relatively small compared to how the moon looks to me while viewing it most nights.

In: Planetary Science

You might want to provide some examples of what you’re talking about. Earth appears about four times larger from the surface of the Moon than vice versa.

Photos taken on the surface of the Moon, or on Earth, are typically focused on something nearby, like an astronaut or rover or sasquatch. Things in the sky are not in focus and not the subject of the picture. Go outside and take a picture of the Moon with your phone…it will look *tiny* on the screen.

It doesn’t.

You might be mistaking it as being so due to the general lack of recognizable size context in moon photos, but the moon looks substantially smaller in our sky than the earth does in the moon’s, and that is readily apparent from photos.

The cameras on the moon were mostly wide-angle lenses. Everything looked far away.

They had no proper viewfinder, as viewfinders of the era relied on bringing the camera up to your eye, which is obviously impossible when wearing a helmet which keeps the camera several inches away from your eye.

This means that if you want to have something in shot, and also be handheld, it pretty much needs to be a wide-angle lens, or you’re going to miss a _lot_ of photos.

When you’re looking at a photo on a screen, things look smaller than when you’re looking at them in real life. The Earths diameter is about 4x the diameter of the moon, so if you were actually there, the Earth would look about 4x bigger in the sky than the moon does to us.

Take a picture of the moon and compare that to the picture of earth. Your post is comparing a photo of one thing / the view of another thing with the naked eye.

When you get a chance, try taking a photograph of the moon with a phone camera. It looks big to the eye, but to a camera it’s actually very, very small when you take a picture of it.

A big part of this is that your brain is very good at focusing on things that are very far away and ignoring everything else. Especially for the moon, since there’s just so little else to compare to it to get a sense of scale or distance.

It looks big to you when you focus on it, just like a distant mountain or a tall building might, but it’s actually quite small in what’s called “angular size” – that is, how much of your vision it takes up. With a camera you lose the effect of how your brain sees it, though, so you can end up needing powerful telescopes to take a picture of the moon that looks the same to you as how the moon in the sky might look to your eye normally.