I’ve always been a bit of an amateur astronomer. However, living in the suburbs of Detroit doesn’t exactly afford me an unobstructed view of the sky. That said, there is an observable phenomenon that occurs from time to time, that can be seen with the naked eye. One of these is what I like to call The Giant Hockey Ball.
Having grown up on the eastside of Detroit, there weren’t many skating ponds around. We had to make do with street (or in my case) backyard hockey. Since stickhandling a puck on cement is nearly impossible, we settled for some rolling alternatives. One of the best was the hunter’s orange Cosom Hockey Ball. That thing really moved, but if you were unlucky enough to get hit with one, it would leave a helluva bruise.
Anyway, I distinctly remember seeing my first Hockey Ball Sunset. I was exiting the I-94 expressway when I saw it. An impossibly large sun on the horizon, marking the end to another beautiful summer’s day. I reasoned that if the sun was that close, we would all be dead. Burnt to a crisp. This particular illusion puzzled me for years. Recently, while engaged in my early morning journaling, I noticed another hockey ball on the horizon. This prompted me to do some research on the effect.
Turns out that seeing a huge sun or moon at its rising (or setting) is just an optical illusion. In addition to the hockey ball, I have seen some rising moons that look like the one hanging over the Griswold’s house in the movie Christmas Vacation. I did a little research and discovered that in both cases, they are indeed optical illusions, brought on by having a frame of reference nearby. A house, power lines, some trees. You get the idea.
However, to me, these illusions have always seemed to have a hint of magic associated with them. I always stop and take notice whenever I see one. I immediately harken back to the first Giant Hockey Ball sunset I saw, all those years ago. I’ve realized that it’s a fitting entry into my list of Tiny Perfect Things. Plus, the sunlight won’t leave a nasty bruise if it hits you, like the real thing! Keep your eyes open for a Giant Hockey Ball or Giant Softball (the moon). It is a rare and magical sight to see.
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