Crescent Moon and Crescent Venus
Spooky clouds and shadowy contrails divide this image of our moon at extreme crescent, and Venus showing the same cookie-like shape.
Why does Venus show phases? It orbits the sun, same as any of us. This image explains it well (via Wikipedia):
(Photo above by Christoph Malin via APOD)
Things I learned today: There is art on the moon.
Fallen Astronaut is the name of the small metal sculpture you see above, created by Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck. It was placed on the lunar surface by Apollo 15 astronaut David Scott, along with a plaque that Scott designed, to commemorate the fallen astronauts and cosmonauts whose sacrifice helped get Scott and his fellow Apollo…-atians(?) safely to the moon and back.
Of course it wasn’t without controversy. Corey S. Powell and Laurie Gwen Shapiro have the story at Slate.
China’s Chang’e 3 lunar lander in lunar orbit, and deploying the Yutu rover.
Now lunar landing conspiracy theorists have a whole new country to target!
China has just landed the first spacecraft on the moon in 37 years. Here’s the video of the Chang’e 3 descent (touchdown happens about 6 minutes in). Check out Emily Lakdawalla’s blog at the Planetary Society for in-depth coverage and lots more images!
A final stop on tonight’s lunar journey to celebrate the full moon, a cover illustration for a 1911 translation of Plutarch’s On the face which appears on the orb of the moon, which sought to correct the wrong science being put forth by such Earth-centric intellectual giants as Aristotle. Aristotle, and others, believed that Earth was surrounded by spherical shells on which the heavens rotated, and that space was filled with something called “aether”.
It turns out they were wrong about that.
From Chicago to the Moon
The moon, whether full, like tonight, or new, is night’s constant attendant and day’s forever curious guest. Long ago it was born of violence, its fate written by physics to face us forever in tethered reflection, maintaining a waxing and waning stare toward its gravitational parent, locked by and forcing its tides upon us.
Philip Bloom’s video captures that distant pull, using the atmospherically distorted abstractions of Chicago’s towering skyscrapers, peeking over the horizon in a sunset’s fading glow, to imagine the surge of tide, a swelling Lake Michigan reaching toward the passing moon.
Captured in 4K, using up to 6400 mm of optical teleportation (AKA “lenses”), it uses natural elements - Earth’s curvature and detailed shots of the the moon - to weave a powerful story of tides, and the pull of our lunar satellite on Earth … and those who live here.
Can you tell I loved it? Read more about how Bloom filmed it here.
Bonus: If you liked this, then you’ll love Mark Gee’s real-time silhouette moonrise.
MOOON by James Kwan
It’s about gravity. And being alone. And coming together.
Eclipse at 44,000 feet
This photo is beyond words, but I’ll try anyway! While many awesome eclipse photos floating around the interwebs are fake (like this one), I assure you this otherworldly scene is 100% real.
It’s incredible for not only what it shows, but how ridonkulously difficult it was to take in the first place:
Last weekend’s solar eclipse (as seen here from space) was a short one, and it traced much of its inky path over the Atlantic ocean, meaning that, unless you were a particularly astronomically-minded whale, you didn’t get to see it first-hand.
That didn’t stop the folks behind this photo. Ben Cooper and his team chartered a jet out of Bermuda and set off to intercept the eclipse over the open ocean.
Here’s where it gets tough. Their plane was flying at 500 mph, aiming perpendicularly (north-south) across the path of the eclipse. The moon’s shadow, crossing in front of the sun, was traveling across the Atlantic at 8,000 mph. From their longitude, the eclipse was only set to last 10-15 seconds. They had to essentially hit a bullet with another bullet, in a ten second window, and take a picture of it to boot.
And what a picture they got! Just an instant after totality the sun is beginning to creep out from behind the moon, creating a “diamond ring” effect. The plane and the clouds below are bathed in darkness, while billows along the horizon glow, still bathed in non-eclipsed light. Wow.
If you need me, I’ll be staring at this for a few hours.