By the Light of the Silvery Moon

I recently read two articles which I found fascinating: in the first, I discovered that the earth once had two moons. The smaller one crashed into the larger one, about 4 million years ago (long before the rise of human beings on the planet), giving us just one silvery moon to spoon by.

The splat happened in slow motion--the smaller, sister moon took about 10 minutes to completely crash into the larger moon that we see in the sky above us, today. The small sister moon was travelling at about 5000 miles per hour (about 8047 kilometers per hour); still, with a massive 600-mile-wide (about 965 -kilometer-wide) sphere to absorb, our big moon took some time to digest it!

What we ended up with is a single, lopsided moon in the sky; the moon got hit with a pie about 4 million years ago, and that accounts for the man in the moon's silly grin.

The back half of the moon took the splatter; our moon got hit with the pie in the back of the head!

The earth is unique in our solar system for having only one moon. Venus and Mercury have none; Mars, two--even little old Pluto, who is now a "dwarf planet", has four; Jupiter and Saturn have more than sixty moons each.

The other article that struck me stated that Neil Armstrong, who was born on August 5, 1930, is 81 years old.

Imagine that! The first man to set foot on the moon is now in the 8th decade of his life! And I remember when this man was young, and a hero to millions upon millions of people; he stepped onto the moon, saying "One small step for man, one great step for mankind." We loved him for that sentiment. In those days, it seemed like just the beginning of a new era--the space age. We seemed to be on the cusp of untold discoveries of our universe. It opened up worlds upon worlds to us; that a man could travel beyond the boundaries of our world, and come home safe and sound.

We looked diligently for other intelligent life out there; we didn't feel we were alone. The SETA program took off--and many conscientious scientists spent their lives, out in the desert, sending a powerful radio signal into space, and listening for an answer.

We built rocket ships that went to Mars. We set up a space station; we built a space shuttle. We sent the Hubble telescope out into deep space, to explore the universe.

There was hope of undreamed of things; untold things in a universe of marvels, that we could begin to open. What we found was not immediately profitable, and the cost of space exploration was prohibitive.

We've had to practically abandon our quest into outer space and our exploration of the space frontier, for now at least. It costs too much, and there isn't enough of a return on the investment. We've found nothing exploitable; however, some new technological advances have arisen from our wish to seek new horizons beyond the earth. We've learned things about gravity, and the lack of it. We've sent probes around Jupiter, Saturn, Mars...we've got pictures from other galaxies, thanks to the Hubble space telescope. We've learned a lot. Science took a quantum leap forward, and I mean that literally, once space exploration began. We discovered new models for both the macro-universe and the micro-universe.

It seems that door of space exploration, which had just started to inch open in my youth, is now closing once again, and we had just begun.

It made sense that we began with the moon. It's the closest object to us in space; we are friends with it; it travels with us around the sun. The moon is the earth's traveling companion. When we went there, we didn't know for sure what we would find. We collected specimens of moon rocks, and that's all there seemed to be there--rocks. Plain, ordinary rocks.

Those rocks from the moon were plain, ordinary rocks. They were composed of basalt (the product of volcanic action); the rare elements contained in them were some traces of anorthite, titanium, and a completely new mineral "armalcolite", named after the first astronauts on the moon: Armstrong, Aldrin, and Colins.

It costs about $100,000 per pound to put something on the moon. If Neil Armstrong weighed 200 pounds, he was the $20-million-dollar man in the moon.

We discovered things we already had postulated: There was very little atmosphere on the moon, and no water. The moon has no plate tectonics, though it does have a core and a mantle, similar to Earth.

And all that expensive technology; those brilliant people inventing brilliant (but EXPENSIVE) ways to defeat Earth's gravity, to plot a path there and back, to protect the vehicle from solar radiation, to deal with zero gravity conditions, to deal with airless conditions; all that--for a bunch of rocks. It might not have seemed worth it, except that the United States was in a space race, at the time. More testosterone around the boardroom table!

The space station costs $100 billion dollars. That's right. $100 billion dollars. Scientists have said, bluntly, "It serves no scientific purpose whatsoever. It is a station to nowhere."

The next scheduled flight to the moon is in 2020, over 50 years after the first flight, which took place on July 20, 1969. It might not happen, even then. President Obama has put several elements of the space program on hold, in the light of the current budget situations.

In the meantime, we still have the light of the silvery moon...so let's spoon away, and let outer space be a mystery, while we develop our inner spaces.

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Comments 17 comments

Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thanks, drbj, for the comment. Hah, I wish the sister moon was still there, y'know?


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

What fascinating news, Paradise, the earth once had two moons. Gives new meaning to all those old songs: Moons over Miami, By the Light of the Silvery Moons and Moons of Manakoora or something like that from an old Hope-Crosby-Lamour film.

Thanks for the update. Who knew?


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Scarytaff and sofs, thanks so much for the comments.

Scarytaff: I didn't know Brian May had an advanced degree in Astrophysics. How cool! And I love that guy; I loved that band's sound. I was so sorry when Freddy Mercury passed.

Sofs: I haven't had much poetry in me, lately, though I love reading poetry on HubPages, I find it's hard for me to write.


sofs profile image

sofs 5 years ago

Great information and beautiful pictures...somehow I expected poetry from you Paradise.. Its been a while :) not that this hub in anyway disappointed me :) It is a big, big world out there... Take care and God Bless!!


scarytaff profile image

scarytaff 5 years ago from South Wales

Another great hub, No.7. This second moon I didn't know about. I always follow the TV programs about outer space, its fascinating stuff. Did you know that Brian May the lead guitarist from Queen is a Phd in Astrophysics?


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you for the comment, Phil. I hope it isn't dead, too. It didn't pay off very well, I must admit. Maybe we just aren't advanced enough yet in our technologies for space travel to be practical. Give us another 100 years or so.


Phil Plasma profile image

Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

I certainly hope that the space age isn't dead. With the way the economy and civilization is heading, I do not have a lot of confidence.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thanks, Sweetie Pie, I can understand that!


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 5 years ago from Southern California, USA

Interesting information about the moon, but I mostly just liked looking at the illustration of the moon with the palm trees. That was beautiful.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thank you, Topquark, for the comment. I followed the space program closely when I was a kid. It gave kids of my generation something to dream on.


topquark profile image

topquark 5 years ago from UK

I read the story about the two moon theory too. Fascinating stuff. This hub is excellent food for thought. I like how you move beyond explaining mere facts and ponder what it all means for us as humans. Beautiful images too.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

WOW!!! Storytellersrus, I'm so impressed with your Dad. They landed safely because of him. Thanks so much for the comment, and for sharing that slice of your Dad's life. Kudos to him, above us all now, in heaven.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter

Paradise7, I love this! I just read about the sister moon theory this morning. It is fascinating and I had no idea this was even a consideration. The bit about Armstrong struck a chord, as my dad designed the manual stick that landed the module on the moon, when the "automatic landing mechanism" did not work. Dad's stick worked perfectly and it was quite a thrill for him. Dad would have been 84 last April ):. Good memories. Thanks.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thanks again, Cags. We still do have so much to learn, to explore! I can't help being curious about EVERYTHING, and you are so right--knowledge and understanding are the keys to true prosperity.


Cagsil profile image

Cagsil 5 years ago from USA or America

You're quite welcome Paradise. You would be right it would be less expensive way to experiment, but I wasn't thinking along that line. I was more pushing toward understanding ourselves, so that we can do more with the time we live, which would bring on a new level of prosperity and generate more revenue, so that the exploration of the Universe and other Universes could be more easily accomplished. In present day, there are too many people who truly do not understand their own life or themselves, so they struggle to find any sort of stability, which grants them the power to control more aspects of their life and being. I was born in 1968, so I can understand about being a space-age child. What cannot be denied is the knowledge and reasoning, in our understanding of the world around us and the Universe for that fact. We've come to learn so much and still have much to learn. It's just too bad that there are more people who want to spread distortion and misinformation, than there are that truly want to accept things are they are. Again, awesome hub. :)


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York Author

Thanks so much for the comment, Cags. I agree with you that a possible way to outer space may begin with inner space and the powers of our minds. It's certainly a less expensive way to experiment! Still, being a space age baby, I'm sad that the space explorations we've made seem to have come to nothing, much.


Cagsil profile image

Cagsil 5 years ago from USA or America

Hey Paradise, I saw you publish this hub and half expected it to be a poem/poetry, at first glance at the title. However, I was pleasantly surprised by your written contents. It's always fascinating to see where we've been and where we're headed. With the Space program presently on hold, it will definitely decrease our learning curve in the future. We will certainly not be expanding our knowledge as much as we have in the last 40-50 years, but as we learn to expand our inner space, we might actually find a new path that can allow use to stretch out into outer space. Great article! Definitely Thumbs Up! Thank you for sharing. :)

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