Friday, July 17, 2009

the moon dude, the moon

Unfortunately right now the moon is waning (each night less area visible from earth is illuminated by the sun).

But once the moon comes back in all its glory, you should go outside and stare at it for a while. I am serious. You should try do this as much as possible, it can be kind of like meditation, which might improve your health.

Forty years ago the first chunks of living, conscious earth matter purposefully moved themselves from their home of the past 4.6 billion years to personally investigate and witness the earth's long-time companion, the moon.  The little astronauts and their little ship, which you can think of as little tiny particles of the earths' crust--earth particles, traveled over 200,000 miles! In absolute vacuum!! What were those earth particles thinking???!!! So dangerous! (p.s. I'm mega jealous). Now, in case you didn't go outside and stare at it yet, here is a high-quality picture of the moon (click for bigger picture):

Here is a more close-up image, showing something called the Euler crater region (again, click for bigger picture):

Pretty hard to believe that exists, huh? Well imagine standing on it! The Apollo 11 mission touched down in the sea of tranquility, which looked like this as the astronauts were descending (click it!):

Picturing myself landing on the moon, as I often do, I cannot begin to imagine the thoughts that would flicker through my brain or the words that would escape from my mouth. Neil Armstrong did a great job, even though he misspoke: "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."
Here's what I might have said while landing on the moon:

Seriously though, think about this moment. Yes, humans have visited the moon. But, think about it in terms of the earth and the moon as two big hunks of matter.  After billions of years of complete isolation, off the surface of the earth sprout these tiny earth particles that had taught themselves how to fly through the vacuum of space, and these earth particles visit the moon.  Somehow some of earth's carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, iron, and aluminum atoms flew to visit the moon's atoms.  Part of the earth itself has visited its long-time neighbor the moon.


Speaking of earth, the following photo was taken on christmas eve of 1968 by the Apollo 8 astronauts on their 4th orbit around the moon, as they saw earth rising above the horizon of the moon:

That photo is a big deal...humanity viewing its home for the first time. The earth is round, and it is the only place we know of where we earth particles can survive. As Apollo 8 astronaut Jim Lovell said shortly after viewing this earthrise:
"The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on earth."
Forty years later, the Japanese totally one-uped us when they made earthrise, the movie (definitely full screen this one):