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Moon Phases, Facts, Oddities and Origin
The moon is a fascinating creature to study.
The moon, with its phases and dark side, is a fascinating creature to study.
Last night the silver moon was full and wisps of dark clouds drifted across the sky. Magical moonlight.
For many reasons humans have always considered the moon to be magical and mysterious and some have even worshipped it.
The moon is silent, because it has no atmosphere, and sound waves must travel through an atmosphere in order to be heard. (The moon actually has a minute amount of moon dust and various chemical debris wafting about, but not enough to be considered an atmosphere.)
No one knows for sure what the moon is made of. We have only examined the surface of the moon and can only speculate what the deeper layers are made of. We have figured out a correlation with the movement of tides on earth and the menstrual cycles of women, which only adds to its mystery.
The moon is quite hot during the day and quite cold at night; since it has no atmosphere to shield it, it is subjected to blows from space objects that are not slowed down by entering an atmosphere but strike it with full force. Knowing this, it is amazing to realize that the late astronaut Neil Armstrong actually walked on the moon.
This is what Buzz Aldrin says about the moon: " ... there is no place on earth as desolate as what I was viewing in those first moments on the Lunar Surface.
Because I realized what I was looking at, towards the horizon and in every direction, had not changed in hundreds, thousands of years. Beyond me I could see the moon curving away - no atmosphere, black sky. Cold. Colder than anyone could experience on Earth when the sun is up- but when the sun is up for 14 days, it gets very, very hot. No sign of life whatsoever.
That is desolate. More desolate than any place on Earth."
We think of the moon as our satellite, but it is actually like a smaller planet, circling the sun along with us, with one face turned toward us and the far side eternally turned away. It appears changeable, sometimes gold and sometimes silver, and sometimes appearing to be full and sometimes only a sliver, but it is always there.
Scientists believe that the moon was formed after a giant collision between the earth and another heavenly body; that the moon is an aggregate of debris from the earth's outer crust. To read the current hypothesis about the origin of the moon, go here:
My granddaughter is studying the moon in fifth grade and she checks the phase of the moon every night. Go here to check out the current moon phase:
The lunar phases are:
New moon - The view from the earth is almost completely dark.
Waxing crescent - The right side of the moon is illuminated, in between the new moon and first quarter
First quarter - The right half of the moon facing the earth is illuminated
Waxing gibbous - Most of the moon is illuminated; between the first quarter and full moon, left side of the moon is dark
Full moon - The whole face of the moon facing the earth is illuminated
Waning gibbous - Most of the moon is illuminated; right side of the moon is dark
Third quarter - The left half of the moon facing the earth is illuminated
Waning crescent - The left side of the moon is illuminated
(Gibbous - what an odd word! It means convex, protuberant, more than half but less than fully illuminated.)
The scientific name for a 'supermoon' is a perigee moon, meaning "closest point to the earth."
To read a lovely hub written about the moon by another hubber, go here:
July 2, 2011: Just found an interesting fact; in some cultures the moon is considered male; Chandra is the name for the moon in Sanskrit and Hindi, for example, and Chandra is lord of plants and vegetation and one of the gods of fertility. I found this out in a round-about way because I study the vast regions of space and the name Chandra is often cited; I searched that and found that it is the name of an x-ray observatory satellite launched by NASA.
September 4, 2011 - I just stumbled upon the Hubpages written by Paradise7 and read a fascinating one about Ganymede. Here's her article about our moon: http://paradise7.hubpages.com/hub/By-the-Light-of-the-Silvery-Moon. I'm going back to read more of her articles about space.
May 8, 2012 - Last Saturday night, on Cinco de Mayo, we celebrated our wedding anniversary by attending a Gipsy Kings concert at the Backyard, and soon after the performance got under way, the Super Moon rose and hung in the sky right behind the stage. Magical!
July, 2013 - An article in TIME magazine states that a recent scientific study verifies what we all already know: The full moon messes with our sleep! A controlled laboratory study shows clearly that we have a difficult time sleeping when the moon is full, even if there are no windows to the outside world in our controlled environment and the phases of the moon are kept secret from us. Our bodies are somehow still tuned to the moon.
April, 2014 - last night I couldn't sleep, I was wide awake when my youngest granddaughter texted me from her bed; she asked if I would come and lie down with her because she couldn't sleep. It was 2:30 a.m. I lay down beside her for about 10 minutes and she drifted off to sleep. This morning I asked my older granddaughter, who was sleeping upstairs, if she had a good night. She complained that she couldn't sleep at all. I came in here and clicked on the link about moon phases, and sure enough, the moon is full.
NOTE: July 31, 2015 -- Full Blue Moon! Don't forget to check it out.
(Lovely Goddess of the Moon,
called by some Selene,
ruler of tides and the nature of women,
here is a small ode to you:)
Our pristine Queen
As we preen
Sail the scene
Light the streams
With fish's sheen
We hold you in
Moon Goddess Selene
Sweet Dream Giver
Guide us down
Our Spirit River*