Some Observations on Celestial Mechanics

Some Observations on Celestial Mechanics

The moon is a fascinating and gorgeous image. It’s movements and timing are for most of us just out of predictability and therefore have a special mystery to them. It is not my intention to dispel that magic but to add to it with some of the magical mysteries that dictate some of the moon’s motions.

We are so familiar with the much more predictable sun. It is high in our nice warm summers and low in the winter and obviously contributes to our colder seasons. It is slightly strange that the longest day is not the hottest nor the shortest the coldest but that is fairly obviously explained by the enormity of our earth and atmosphere that like a huge ship takes a long, slow time to turn. The moon however appears low and high and at least until recently for me I could make no rhyme or reason out of it’s motions. Well here it is: the winter full moon is high – opposite the sun who is low. The summer full moon is low – again opposite the sun. Rather than a half a year drift from high to low like the sun, the moon drifts high and low each month. So the full moon is high in the winter but all the other phases drift low the new noom being the lowest. Conversely the low full moon has higher phases (one quarter, half, etc.). During the equinox they all unite in the middle as you might expect.

Here’s one more moon/sun tidbit. They both seem the same size – how wonderful and strange. We know the sun at 93 million miles away is very much more distant the our close neighbor the moon. Again some amazing and sychronistic celestial mechanics is at play. The sun is 400 times larger and 400 times farther away from us thus creating the illusion of being the exact same size. Wow!

I find this gratifying information. It adds to my understanding and respect and actually awe, of the universe we have been given to play and learn in. It makes me even more grateful and fascinated by the gift of life.

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