Even though a “Blue Moon” doesn’t really look like this, it does attract a lot of attention.
Whenever there's a second full Moon in a month, the phrase "Blue Moon" gets a real work out in the popular press and on-line. Interestingly, that definition of a Blue Moon is of surprisingly recent vintage. What’s more, it's rooted in a mistake.
My copy of Sky&Telescope’s new Moon globe arrived recently and I’ve been enjoying it ever since. I have a special fondness for lunar cartography. I’m proud to say that I helped create both the Sky&Telescope Moon Map and Field Map of the Moon and I also got to serve as editor for Antonín Rükl’s classic Atlas of the Moon. But there’s one thing that these flat maps and even computer software can't do very well — show you the entire Moon from any perspective quckly and easily.
At 10:56 p.m. EDT on July 20th, 1969, Neil Armstrong set foot on the lunar surface. That small step really did represent a giant leap. Perhaps as a species, we’ll never again achieve anything quite so grand or monumental.
You can enjoy viewing the Moon with nothing more than a modest telescope equipped with a few eyepieces. Even binoculars can show a great deal. But to get the most out of your lunar explorations a few additional tools are a big help. Here are my picks of the best and most essential Moon goodies.
Recently I did a segment for the show SUPERnova, which is produced by the talented team of Tyler Gamsby and Shannon Hartley for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada's Vancouver Centre. The results are viewable above.
This is episode #4. Be sure to check out the other shows too. All are very nicely done and have unusually high production values. SUPERnova is part of the Vancouver Centre's International Year of Astronomy outreach program.
When I was a boy growing up near the town of Cawston in the desert interior of British Columbia, the family dining-room window looked across our orchard toward the nearby hills that cradled the Similkameen Valley. These were grey sagebrush-covered mounds with gently rounded profiles like those of the mountains on the Moon.
Taking your own trip to the Moon doesn’t require anything as big and expensive as a Saturn V rocket, but a little equipment will definitely make the voyage more rewarding.
The Moon is unquestionably one of the most appealing sky sights. We’re drawn to it as though some primitive impulse from deep within rises to the surface whenever we see the lunar disk shining from the darkness, like consciousness itself. And it’s simply beautiful. No wonder it’s the subject of countless poems, the lead player in numerous nursery rhymes, and usually the very first target for a beginner’s telescope.