Posts Tagged ‘moon’

PostHeaderIcon The Full Moon

So there was an old mystery novel that set up the chilling night time scene with:

The big full moon rose over the horizon just at midnight.

Did anything strike you funny about this particular scene? Have you ever wondered why sometimes you see the moon during the day? Well, depending on what phase the moon is in you can figure out roughly when the moon rose and when it will set during any part of the day.

Moon Phases

The Phases of Our Moon

It takes the Moon roughly 29 days to make a complete rotation around our planet and the above chart show the placement of the eight major phases the Moon takes and where it lies in orbit at that time. The detailed Moon phases show what we get to see from Earth at the time the Moon is in the location designated by the simple white and gray circle.

As the Earth sits in the picture remember that the spot closest to the sun would be Noon and the spot further away, in the dark, would be Midnight. From anywhere along the Earth you can put yourself and draw a straight line from that point to the Moon phase you want to see and that’s where it would show up at that time. (Provided the Earth doesn’t get in the way.) Say we’re at the top of the Earth, where the light and dark side meet, this is “sunrise” so if we drew a line straight up (looking straight up into the sky) we would see a half-moon. However, what if it was sunrise but we wanted to see the full moon? Well, if we drew a line to it, the Earth’s horizon would just touch that line. If we rotation anymore into the morning, the Earth would block our site. Therefore, if we looked for a Full Moon at sunrise it would have to be just setting over the horizon. If we stood on the other side at “sunset”, the opposite Full Moon would be right over head, and the Full Moon would be just coming into view over the horizon.

What about the New Moon? Well, since we’re looking at the dark side of the moon during that phase, no real light is bouncing off to show itself to us. However, the best time to see a New Moon is, of course, during a Solar Eclipse, when the Moon steps right out in front of the Sun and blocks its light temporarily.

So next time someone’s alibi includes the Full Moon rising at midnight, you’ll know something’s up.

PostHeaderIcon Wading in the Waters

Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin


On 12 April 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first man to travel into space, launching to orbit aboard the Vostok.

Moving past all the political hate, the Soviet Union hiding all sorts of numerous facts and news from the public and the American’s fear and nerves as they scrambled to catch up to Russian tech and intelligence, there was a man who was ready to face the dragons of what traveling into space would be.

As the earlier European and Asiatic sailors began navigating their boats straight into the seemingly infinite ocean horizon, they had a wealth of things to cause them fear, make them wary of the trek. Hurricanes, serpents, unexpected banks without lighthouses, loss of food and clean water, and gods against them, yet there were countless sailors striking out. While many did not return, many did.

But then many years later we turned our boats to the cosmic ocean. Regardless of nationality, we humans, our brothers and sisters, struck out into space. Leading the way was Yuri.

So while we come around on the 50th golden anniversary of humans entering space, what have we achieved? Well, we’ve stepped foot on the moon. That’s nothing to sneeze at, but when did we achieve that? July 21, 1969, eight years later. Eight years was all it took from worrying about Gagarin loosing his mind to the unknowns of weightlessness and outer space, to taking a human all the way to the moon, jumping out, and hopping around on it.

It takes 29 years more before we launch our International Space Station in 1998. A semi-permanent residency in low Earth orbit. We’re now in 2011 and 13 years later, with the words from a certain president saying no more manned space missions, and a shuttle program that is being retired with no real ready replacement.

“Before this first flight there were reasonable suspicions that human beings weren’t made for this environment,” James Oberg, a NASA veteran, said. “And once Gagarin answered that question, I think every other discovery on every other manned spaceflight was just details. He answered the most challenging, the most awesome question by his performance.”

Gagarin had the courage to face the unknowns of space and defeated those dragons so that we would be able to sail further than we ever had before, into space.

We have crossed rivers; we have crossed oceans. We have crossed the cosmic river separating us from our moon, but we can go further. We must keep pushing the limit. We cannot shy away from the achievements waiting for us just past the moon.

To read more about Yuri Gagrin from AP and Wikipedia.

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