Monday, November 18, 2013

Cycles

Last post I wrote about my love of the night sky. This one focuses on the Moon. Astronomers have a love/annoyance relationship with our natural satellite. On one hand, the Moon makes for an interesting target of study all on it's own. On the other, it's intense luminosity often drowns out the heavens making observations difficult.

Fortunately the Moon's orbit creates a predictable cycle that ranges between full and bright to dark and invisible. With clockwork precision, we get to experience both extremes and everything in between.

This lunar cycle is burned into our very core. It not only influences our language, folklore, calendar, art and poetry; it's been coded into our DNA since before our distant ancestors left their tidal pools to walk on dry land.

It's remarkable how unique our Moon is. While there are plenty of other moons in our solar system, it's the largest moon relative to its planet. For billions of years our Moon has kept the Earth's orbit stable enough to develop and support life. We can say with near certainty that we wouldn't be here if not for our constant planetary companion.

We had a gloomy, rainy weekend here in Atlanta, so I didn't get to see last night's full moon. My buddy, Gilbert, is visiting San Francisco and sent me this pic of the Moon rising over that beautiful city.


But I didn't need Gilbert to tell me the moon was full. You see, I've been keeping track.

A few weeks ago I was playing with the SkyWalk app on my iPad. With idle curiosity I decided to dial it forward it to February, 2014 to see what the sky would look like when our cruise leaves Miami. It turns out the Moon will be just a few hours past full, and just breaking the eastern horizon as the ship is scheduled to set sail at 7 PM.

This is how the sky will look on the third Full Moon from now.
This morning around 6:30 AM I was driving to work when the rain stopped. I saw the clouds break and there above the highway hung the moon. Just a few hours past full and about to set.




1 comment:

  1. Beautiful pic with the moon from your buddy Gilbert.

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