What do you believe about the Moon? No matter how you see our nearest celestial neighbor, no one could deny its beauty, especially on a dark, full moon night.
The moon was as red as blood that night. It bled, and to the superstitious, it seemed like a portent of darker things to come.
For astronomers, however, the crimson moon was one of nature’s best phenomena: a total lunar eclipse. Unlike total solar eclipses, where the sun completely disappears when covered with the moon’s shadow, the moon in total lunar eclipses does not—it merely produces a red glow that is not unlike our very own terrestrial sunsets.
Our closest celestial neighbor is beautiful beyond words! ©
For many amateur astronomers, the interest in celestial bodies started when they were very young. Most would see queer drawings on its surface—a man and a plump little rabbit with pointy ears. Some believe in superstitious stories about the moon. According to folk stories, when the full moon is out, one should not go out of the house, lest the evil spirits would come and devour the unsuspecting person.
As one grows older, however, the full moon becomes a necessary ingredient for romance. Novels espouse the “tried and true” strategy of proposing to a girl in a garden, with the light of the full moon beaming down, for the proposal to be accepted. Indeed, it is romantic walking under the full moon, for everything looks softened, mysterious and magical.
Romantic and mysterious, the moon, our nearest celestial companion has enthralled past and present civilizations alike.
Past cultures revered her, calling her Lady Diana. holding ancient rituals under her luminous, reflected light, scheduling their activities according to her cycle.
A lot of people in the Middle Ages believed that the full moon causes madness, and despite the deluge of scientific information we have about the moon, a lot of people still insist that full moons affect human behavior. Called “lunar effect,” the moon supposedly causes people to become deranged, more violent, prone to drug overdose, commit suicides, among other things.
Some people even profess to go over the edge when they see the full moon. After all, where does the word lunatic come from, but from luna, the Latin word for “moon”? There is no connection, of course. The moon is after all, only a piece of rock reflecting sunlight. What harm could a little more sunlight commit?
It was not until 1969, when Apollo 11 landed at Mare Tranquilatis, and Neil Armstrong first stepped on the dry lunar surface, that the world was treated to a humanity’s dream come true, a dream shared by almost every living thing: that of conquering space.
Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon, which he declared “a giant step for mankind,” unleashed a torrent of scientific data. The moon is not green cheese after all—it is a lump of molten rock formed 4.6 billion years ago, when the solar system was forming.
Without an atmosphere, the moon has suffered bombardments from meteors just after its formation, leaving pockmarks all over its face. To make matters worse, lava rose to the surface and poured out of it for billions of years, forming the maria (plural of mare) or the seas.
The United States’ Apollo missions gathered thousands of samples that are still being studied until today. Moon rocks, lunar soil, lava chunks — these are carefully stored for researches to use.
It is now almost half a century since man first landed on the moon. Space exploration is still unrealized. Moon colonies are still in the realm of dreams. Will humanity ever outgrow the cradle it calls the Earth? No one knows.