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.
What if the moon was the same distance away as the ISS?
That’s the question asked, and answered, in this new simulation by YouTuber yetipc1. While we think of the International Space Station as being, well, way out there in space, it’s not that far. Only around 400 km up, actually. If the Earth was a basketball, then the ISS would only be about a centimeter off its surface.
On average, our moon resides 384,400 km away from Earth (I say “on average” because its orbit is an ellipse, rather than a circle). For our basketball-Earth, that puts the tennis ball-sized moon at the NBA three-point line. That’s hard to picture, so here’s a video from Veritasium to help. Even at that incredible distance, it sucks on our oceans with its gravity, daily pulling the tides in and out.
Think about that! Even at that incredible distance, the moon can warp the liquid on the surface of Earth! Which brings me to a major problem with this video … in order to see this, we’d all be dead, and Earth would be very messed up indeed.
When two large astronomical bodies get close enough together, the pull of gravity and tidal forces will eventually warp the less massive of the two until it disintegrates. This magical distance is described as the Roche limit (although it’s also dependent on what each body is made of). Mars’ moon Phobos will likely meet this fate within 10 million years, falling apart into a ring system around our neighbor.
In the ISS/moon video, this would have already happened. So it would look more like Ron Miller’s beautifully imagined Earth-ring system. I also recommend his series on what we’d see if we had other planets in place of our moon. In the process of our moon approaching Earth, the tidal forces would tear our crust into an apocalyptic volcanic wasteland. I imagine it would look like squeezing a planet-sized double-stuff Oreo filled with magma. If you weren’t dead, it might even look beautiful, maybe like the end of Melancholia, starring Kirsten Dunst, which you should watch.
Anyway, visit yetipc1’s YouTube page for a great explanation of why the light in the video looks like it does, which is some pretty nifty science. And maybe leave a comment about how that guy on the left in the beginning by the fence (you’ll see what I mean) would have been dead long ago :)
Oh and finally, finish this astronomically delicious meal with my video: How Big Is The Solar System?
How an amateur astronomer mapped the Moon 59 years before Apollo 11
Walter Goodacre spent decades gazing through his personal telescope, painstakingly sketching the pits, shadows and contours of the moon. He published that map in 1910, when lunar travel was more the realm of Georges Méliès than Neil Armstrong. It wasn’t the first map of the moon, but it was the work of one dedicated amateur scientist.
With time, patience, and practice, you never know what you could accomplish.
You can tour an interactive version of the map at the University College London website, along with several others.
Bonus: Learn about the violent history of our moon.
(via Boing Boing)
Source: Boing Boing
Why does the full moon look larger when it’s near the horizon than when it’s high up in the sky? For generations, astronomers, psychologists, brain researchers, and many others have hypothesized about this effect, and yet there still doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer.
Previously on this intriguing topic: The Moon Illusion with ASAP Science.
See the moon illusion in action with this stunning real-time moonrise from New Zealand. It’s beautiful stuff.
Good morning! Perspective - how big is our Moon?
And it’s about this far away (much farther than most people think):
The light from the moon is 1.28 seconds old. Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is Why didn’t Chris Hadfield put the moon over Canada?!
Combine this with a video about the true scale of the solar system.