Luna is beautiful

Elder Taoist
Reciprocal
Published in
4 min readOct 19, 2022

--

The Moon is an eternal mystery.

Photo by Jennifer Aldrich on Unsplash

While most other major moons in our solar system have their own name, within the English language the official designation of Earth’s moon is Earth 1. For the longest time Earth’s moon was the only one humans knew of. As a result, we still just call it The Moon.

The Latin name for Earth’s moon is Luna which I am going to use to distinguish it from all the other moons in our solar system.

Luna is the fifth largest moon in our solar system. The largest is Ganymede which orbits Jupiter. Next is Titan which orbits Saturn. Then come Callisto and Io, both of which also orbit Jupiter. Because they are so big, and because Jupiter is closer to Earth than Saturn, Jupiter’s moons were the first non-Earth moons to be discovered by Galileo in 1610.

Jupiter and the four moons discovered by Galileo Galilei. (Rehman Abubakr from Wikimedia Commons)

Luna orbits the Earth every 27.32 days. However, the full cycle of lunar phases takes 29.53 days. The difference is because, as the Earth orbits the Sun and the Moon orbits Earth, the relative angle of the sunlight on the Moon’s surface changes from the point of view of the surface of Earth. Because of the constantly changing angle of view, while the Moon actually orbits the earth 13.4 times in a year, it only appears to orbit 12.4 times in a year.

The same face of Luna is aways pointed towards earth. There is an aspect of gravitational interaction between orbiting objects that, over time, will cause the smaller of the two objects to slow it revolutions to the point that it always presents the same face to the larger object. That is why we did not know what the other side of Luna looked like until we sent rockets to orbit Luna and take pictures of the other side.

Okay, enough technical details about the Moon, Earth, and Sun.

Having a small telescope, I enjoy looking at the phases of Luna and observing the various craters and other anomalies on its surface. As the phases move along, the shadows from the edges of the craters show different features on different nights.

One of my favourite craters is the Kepler crater. You can see it in the photo below. The biggest crater, slightly above the centre line and almost half way between the shadow line and the edge of the moon is the Copernicus crater. The next big crater to the left of that, nearly half the remaining distance to the edge of the moon and slightly above the centre line is the Kepler crater.

Earth’s moon six days after Full Moon. (Photo by Guillermo Ferla on Unsplash)

That crater is named after Johannes Kepler who developed the laws of planetary motion. Without an understanding of those laws, travel to other planets would never have been possible.

The main reason that is my favourite Luna crater is that one of the people I most care about in this world happens to be descended from Kepler. So it holds a special place in my heart.

Kepler crater taken during Apollo 12 mission. (NASA Public Domain)

Well, it is a clear night tonight with moonrise in a while. I was hoping this would be a more interesting article, but apparently the muses aren’t with me today. I think I’ll end here so that I can set up my telescope. Kepler crater should be right near the shadow line tonight, giving a great view of the details.

I am frequently inspired by other writers on Medium. Here are some I’ve particularly enjoyed reading recently:

wrote this piece that included a challenge which prompted my article:

wrote this lovely article that gives us some basis for hope in these difficult times:

’s poetry demonstrates her excellent artistry with words. This piece is a celebration of the process of writing itself:

On the other hand,

claims to struggle to find the words to describe the beauty of fall. Personally, I think she does a great job in this article:

I wish to thank new people who recently chose to follow me and my writing. Your interest encourages me to continue writing. I hope you enjoy this new story.

, , , , ,

Thank you for following me.

I wish you well!

The Elder Taoist ☯

--

--

Elder Taoist
Reciprocal

Septuagenarian Autistic/Asperger with HSP and OCD tendencies. Does math for fun. Endlessly curious about connectedness of nature, from stars to trees to bugs.