Column: Worth hearing

The full moon in opera

Let us still stay with the music for a little while and let us bring our attention to a grand musical genre of theatre, the opera. We recently saw TOSCA (from Puccini) in Madrid and lo and behold! In the first act, we suddenly heard »luna piena«, which is Italian for full moon. A real highlight!

Then we had the idea to rummage through some libretti (opera lyrics) to find out if the full moon motif may also play a part in other operas. For this purpose, one can view the libretti online. We were interested in particular in the actual mentioning of it, as these were created by the composers themselves, whereas the appearance of the full moon on stage was usually the part of the stage designer. [read more]

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Full moon songs

It is self-evident to sing about the moon and some may have caught themselves humming a few quiet sounds while gazing into the full moon light. There are a large number of folk songs in all cultures addressing the full moon and having been passed on from generation to generation. Quite often, songs were sung in the evenings and hence it was natural that the moon would come into play. It appears to contain something inspiring. We have compiled a few examples of comtemporary songs about the full moon and realised that the word full moon can be found in numerous songs across all music genres, from Rock to Pop, from Jazz to New Age. Maybe it is the unattainability of the moon that is reflected in so many areas and experiences. [read more]

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With the car on the moon

When Neil Armstrong became the first human being that set foot on the moon within the scope of the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, he said the famous words »That’s one small step for (a) man … one … giant leap for mankind«  and hence erected a monument for this historic move. Rarely in history, did the success of human research and development work, condense so impressively in just one moment.   [read more]

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The reverse side of the Moon

As is generally known, the Moon is not a disc but a sphere and one could ask the question if we actually get to see different sides of this Moon sphere? The answer is: no! At least this is true for the observer from Earth.

Indeed, we always see one half of the Moon. This is because the Moon is locked into the Earth rotation. This is called »synchronous rotation«. It means that we are never able to see the side of the Moon facing away from us. And until it was possible to photograph the reverse of the Moon with space probes, nobody knew what we would find or how it would look. [read more]

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Golf in a vacuum

Almost exactly 40 years ago, on 06.02.1971, Alan B. Shepard succeeded the furthest one-handed golf swing in history to date, as commander of the Apollo 14 mission. He did not accomplish this due to any extraordinary abilities as a golf player, but because he struck the golf ball on the moon.  And because of the prevailing, scarce amount of gravity and the absent braking effect in the atmosphere, the ball flew extremely far.

Shepard had to strike the ball one-handedly, as the rigid space suit did not allow two-handed play. He undertook four attempts and struck two balls altogether. How far exactly they flew has not been documented, however, one  can assume a couple of hundred metres. In the original audio material of NASA, you can hear Shepard saying jokingly, after his last tee off »Miles and miles and miles …«. [read more]

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