40 years ago Gene Cernan left the last bootprint on the Moon.
To commemorate that occasion here is a round up of Moon related stories.
- Phil Plait has a bittersweet post about the last time we were on the Moon
- Buzzfeed has a great love letter to the moon, trying to explain our absence, and convincing the Moon that Mars is just a fling and means nothing to us
- Even though we haven’t been there in a long while, NASA is still interested in the Moon, and tomorrow they are going to crash their twin GRAIL probes into the Moon to show it we still care, and for science
- The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will closely monitor the crash, the LRO has been busy and based on its measurements scientists at NASA have been able to create a visualization of the phases of the Moon (A quick primer of the phases of the Moon) for 2013 in unprecedented accuracy and detail, for a more low tech option you could just get this calendar.
- Speaking of visualizations of the Moon, check out these beautiful carvings of the Moon
Unfortunately, a study titled “Santa and the Moon” revealed that when it comes to Christmas imagery on gift wrapping paper and children’s books, the Moon is frequently depicted incorrectly. The paper (which despite focusing on visualizations of the Moon, has the most visually unappealing figures) notes that there are typically two ways of depicting the Moon, either a full Moon, or crescent Moon, on its first or last quarters. A crescent Moon on its way towards the first quarter is called a waxing Moon, which can be observed in the afternoon twilight and in the evening with its right hand side illuminated (for observers in the Northern Hemisphere, the top row in the above figure). A waning crescent Moon, which is illuminated from the left hand side, rises early in the morning (around 3 a.m., bottom row in the above figure) and can only be observed late at night and in the morning twilight. A full Moon is directly opposite the Sun in the sky, and hence it will rise at sunset. The paper sought to “quantify the level of ignorance concerning the phase of the evening Moon” by examining the depiction of the Moon on illustrations from children’s books, wrapping paper, and Christmas cards from the USA and the Netherlands. The paper found that designers of Christmas related illustrations, tend to draw the Moon according to their own taste and with disregard for astronomical precision, with the most common mistake being the depiction of a waning Moon (observable in the early morning) in an evening scene (as depicted here, as opposed to the correct waxing moon for an evening scene, as shown here). For shame Hallmark, for shame.
Regardless of how it is depicted, the Moon is always awesome, mysterious, beautiful, and hundreds of other adjectives, and we cannot return to it soon enough. Goodnight Moon.
- Watch livestream as NASA crashes twin GRAIL spacecraft into moon on Monday (earthsky.org)
- The Last Words on the Moon (amyshirateitel.com)
- We left the moon 40 years ago today. Will we ever return? (boingboing.net)
- 40 years of waiting (eatlogicalsentences.com)
- Last man on moon recalls trek 40 years ago (sfgate.com)