Ah the Moon. It’s not the best place for parties (there’s no atmosphere). However, it has a special place in the hearts and minds of countless billions throughout history. We’ve all looked up at this bright, glowing sphere at some point, and at various points of the year, we get treated to different images. The Full Moon is unquestionable spectacular, but the Moon’s other cycles are quite fascinating and beautiful in their own way.
The Moon does suffer – or depending on your point of view, benefit – from a lack of imagination. The bodies orbiting Jupiter have spectacular names, as do the moons of the other planets. Even the humble asteroids orbiting Mars have more creative titles than earth’s own Moon. Still, ‘Moon’ does get straight to the point. It is earth’s only Moon (well, actually, it’s not, but it’s the only one we can actually see from earth), and calling it what it is… well, it’s certainly direct.
The Moon is also forever linked to one of the greatest accomplishments in human history. On the 20th of July 1969, Apollo 11 touched down upon the lunar surface, and Neil Armstrong famously became the first person to step foot upon the ground of another celestial body. He uttered those immortal words ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’, whilst millions watched on, utterly captivated. Perhaps that is one of the things about the Moon that holds our attention. It is in real terms very far away, yet it is in astronomical terms a hair’s breadth from us, and thus feels tangible. Whereas human missions to say, Saturn are currently well beyond our abilities, reaching the Moon has not only felt within our grasp, we’ve actually gone and done it.
We may one day return to the Moon, and there are plans to do exactly that, but when that happens is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, we can take in its beauty. We can walk in the moonlight (which, if we want to get technical, is still sunlight, so vampires beware!). We can marvel at the role the Moon plays in solar eclipses. We can smile and wave to our nearest neighbour, and appreciate how the humble Moon has inspired us.