I look to the heavens on a clear and starry night.
Out there black holes and quasars can be a fright.
But what I see is a beautiful sight
The moon is in crescent phase over Busti at 6 p.m. on Nov. 18. Earthshine dimly illuminates the portion of the moon normally invisible to the naked eye. The exposure was at f 4.5 for 1/4 second on an Olympus digital 18X zoom camera held on a tripod.
Photo by Robert M.
Because moonlight is a comfort and a perfect delight.
My astronomical knowledge is meager, being limited to recognition of several constellations and a basic understanding how planets revolve around the sun in our solar system. Thanks to Boy Scout training, I learned how to locate the North Star following an imaginary line through the last two stars at the end of the Big Dipper. The moon is an impressive sight and our closest celestial body, so I decided it deserved more attention from me. I just discovered our local libraries have a vast collection of moon books discussing how the moon creates ocean tides, pictorial guides naming all craters, mountains, and plains on the moon, and America's achievement of landing a man on the moon.
Our moon is more than a pretty "face" in the sky; it creates the twice daily ocean tides around the world. Just think of the power the moon's gravitational pull has on Earth to raise ocean levels an average of 2 feet at high tide. A simultaneous but lesser high tide occurs on the opposite side of Earth from water displaced at the two simultaneous low tides.
The moon travels around the Earth in an orbit, completing one trip or revolution in 27.3 days. However, since the Earth is moving around the sun at the same time, the moon needs a total of 29.5 days to catch up to complete the time from one full moon to the next full moon. Timing of Easter for Christians is based on moon phases and Ramadan for Muslims is based on a lunar calendar.
One side of the moon always faces the Earth because the moon rotates on its axis once during one trip around the Earth. We therefore never see the back side of the moon. Astronauts are the only humans with this experience. They report similar landscape to the near side but with many more meteoroid craters.
Sunlight warms the moon to 274 degrees Fahrenheit, much above the temperature of boiling water. Temperature drops to 274 degrees below zero on the side of the moon away from the sun.
Landing a man on the moon was a science race between Russia and the United States which occurred during my youth. The Russian spacecraft, Luna 3, first photographed the back side of the moon in 1959. The United States Apollo space program started with six unmanned flights. On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 lunar module landed, permitting Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to walk on the moon. Five more Apollo landings followed. The Apollo 13 flight chronicled in the movie, "Apollo 13," staring Tom Hanks, experienced an explosion in the service module so a lunar landing was called off.
Apollo astronauts left instruments on the moon which have detected meteoroids striking the moon 80-150 times a year.
No one knows for sure the origin of the moon, but geologists imagine a large meteoroid, perhaps the size of Mars, striking Earth and knocking off a portion of the upper crust. Superficial rocks flew into space, but being held by the Earth's gravitational pull, eventually coalesced and established an orbit around the earth 3.5 billion years ago.
The familiar phases of the moon, crescent, quarter, full, and invisible new moon, occur by sunlight reflecting off the moon as it revolves around the Earth. The curious phenomenon captured on my digital camera, called "Earthshine," results from sunlight reflecting off the Earth onto the moon. Earthshine dimly illuminates the portion of the moon invisible to our naked eye. Earthshine on the moon will be visible with magnification of a camera zoom lens or binoculars.
Try photographing the moon at your residence this weekend using a camera with a zoom lens stabilized on a tripod, and I predict you will be unexpectedly thrilled with your moon pictures.