Lunar pareidolia

Lunar pareidolia refers to the pareidolic images seen by humans on the face of the Moon. The Moon's surface is a complex mixture of dark areas (the lunar maria, or "seas") and lighter areas (the highlands). Many cultures have seen shapes in these dark and light areas that have reminded them of people, animals or objects, often related to their folklore; the most famous are the Man in the Moon in Western folklore and the Moon Rabbit of Asia and the Americas. Other cultures perceive the silhouette of a woman, a frog, a moose, a buffalo, or a dragon (with its head and mouth to the right and body and wings to the left) in the full moon. Alternatively, the vague shape of the overall dark and light regions can resemble a Yin Yang symbol.

Man In The Moon2
Some Pareidolias in the moon

The Man in the Moon

Man in the Moon with key
One possible interpretation of the Man in the Moon as seen from the Northern Hemisphere

The Man in the Moon is an imaginary figure resembling a human face, head or body, that observers from some cultural backgrounds typically perceive in the bright disc of the full moon.


Rabbit in the moon standing by pot
Rabbit with a pot – making medicine, mochi, or tteok

In Chinese culture, the rabbit in the Moon (a companion of Chang'e) is pounding medicine. Similarly, in Japan and Korea, popular culture sees a rabbit making mochi and tteok, respectively, in the Moon.

In Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica the rabbit is often associated with the Moon, for example, Tecciztecatl, the Aztec moon god, was pictured as an anthropomorphic rabbit; there is also a myth involving Quetzalcoatl and the Moon rabbit.

Female figures

In Elizabethan England, the spots of the Moon were supposed to represent a witch carrying sticks of wood on her back, or an old man with a lantern (which was illustrated by Shakespeare in his comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream). A more recent Western image is the profile of a coiffed woman wearing a jeweled pendant, the jewel being the crater Tycho, which at full moon is very bright and has bright radiating lines (rays). In New Zealand Māori legend, the Moon shows a woman with a local tree, the Ngaio. However, throughout Melanesia and Polynesia, the Moon is seen to be a cook over a three-stone fire.

In Chinese Mythology, Chang'e (various spellings) lives on the Moon. She was mentioned in the conversation between Houston Capcom and Apollo 11 crew just before the first Moon landing:[1]

Houston: Among the large headlines concerning Apollo this morning there's one asking that you watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit. An ancient legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang-o has been living there for 4000 years. It seems she was banished to the Moon because she stole the pill for immortality from her husband. You might also look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit, who is easy to spot since he is only standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree. The name of the rabbit is not recorded.
Aldrin: Okay, we'll keep a close eye for the bunny girl.

— NASA Capcom and Apollo 11 crew, NASA[2]


"The toad was seen by Chinese Taoists as ... the moon, representing Chang-O, the transformed wife of Yi, the excellent archer. ... According to Robert M. DeGraaff, in some representations of the moon-toad, the ling chih fungus is shown growing out of the creature's forehead."[3]


Shia Muslims believe that the name of Ali Ibne-Abi Talib (Muhammad's son in law) is written on the Moon. This interpretation has roots in several hadith by Muhammad where he compares Ali to the Moon and himself to the Sun. There are also other esoteric interpretations of this analogy in Islamic philosophy.

See also


  1. ^ Onion-Club, Chang-e, About the Moon Festival Archived 2012-03-05 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Apollo 11 Technical Air-to-Ground Voice Transcription
  3. ^ Adrian Morgan : Toads and Toadstools. Celestial Arts, 1995. ISBN 0-89087-777-7. p. 157

External links


Chinese moon festival legends

Man in the Moon

The Man in the Moon refers to any of several pareidolic images of a human face, head or body that certain traditions recognize in the disc of the full moon. The images are composed of the dark areas of the lunar maria, or "seas" and the lighter highlands of the lunar surface.

Moon rabbit

The moon rabbit in folklore is a rabbit that lives on the Moon, based on pareidolia that identifies the markings of the Moon as a rabbit. The folklore originated in China, and then spread to other Asian cultures. In East Asian folklore, it is seen pounding with a mortar and pestle, but the contents of the mortar differ among Chinese, Japanese, and Korean folklore. In Chinese folklore, it is often portrayed as a companion of the Moon goddess Chang'e, constantly pounding the elixir of life for her; but in Japanese and Korean versions, it is pounding the ingredients for rice cake. In some Chinese versions, the rabbit pounds medicine for the mortals.

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