The moon inside the word »Monday«

In many languages, inside the word for the weekday »Monday« you find the word »moon«, sometimes slightly modified but mostly easily recognised. This does not appear to be a coincidence. But why? Surely, the Moon cannot only be seen on Mondays and no other good reasons comes to mind quickly why a specific day of the weekly cycle should be connected to the Moon.

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The libration of the Moon

Who believes to see a staggering Moon at night, has probably had a drop too much, although a staggering movement of the Moon actually exists in astronomy. This is called »libration«,  but happens very slowly and is therefore only visible by the naked eye in time-lapse photography.

The Moon orbits around the Earth in a so called synchronous rotation. This means that it always faces one hemisphere towards the Earth, while the reverse side of the Moon is not visible from Earth. Due to certain physical conditions (relating to orbits, angular velocity, centres of mass, among others), what happens is that the visible surface of the Moon varies slightly during the course of the moon cycle, and there is a gentle change of inclination of the Moon’s axis or it appears to turn a little.

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The tarot card “The Moon”

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The tarot is a pack of playing cards that is used for mystical interpretations. It has a long tradition, possibly dating back to the ancient Egyptian time. Playing cards started to circulate in Europe at around the 14th and 15th century, among them also the so called “tarock” (in Italian “tarocchi”), which is considered to be the predecessor of what is now known as tarot, and still today established independently as a game of cards.

Over time, the symbolism and interpretation begins to move to the forefront and the cards become a popular tool for mystics and fortune tellers.

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The career of William Turner

Photography had not yet been invented when the British painter J. M. William Turner (1775–1851) created his painting »Fishermen at Sea« in 1796, where he depicts a nightly scenery at a tempestuous sea, which is lit by the full moon midst heavy clouds. This painting was the first exhibited oil painting by the then 21 year-old Turner and marked the beginning of a great career.

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The wrist watch on the Moon

What does an astronaut has on his wrist? You are not going to believe it, but it is something completely earthly: a watch. Because time is, next to the coordinates which show his position in space, the most important information for his mission and his life. And although, astronauts are surrounded by all kind of instruments, it has already been thought of in the beginnings of space travel to equip the crew with wrist watches. Of course with special models only.

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The Last Supper at the full moon

Shortly before Easter, we are taking a look at Christianity and notice that a very important event must have taken place at the full moon: the Last Supper of Jesus and his disciples. From a historical point of view, the Last Supper derives from the Jewish Passover feast (Seder), which traditionally takes place on the eve of Passover. This meal is being celebrated on the 14th Nisan, which is always the first full moon after the spring equinox – the beginning of spring. This is how later, the calculation of the Easter date had been determined: »Easter takes place on the Sunday after the first full moon in spring.«

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»Fishing Party« by Fitz Hugh Lane

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Inspired by his trip to the coast of Maine, USA, the American artist and lithographer Fitz Hugh Lane (1804–1865) – aka Fitz Henry Lane – created the full moon painting »Fishing Party«, in 1855. He was a representative of the American luminism, a painting style characterized by a specific form of light-flooded landscapes in the 19th century (lumen = lat. light).

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More aggression at the full moon?

The word “aggression” derives from the Latin verb “aggredi” which means »approach, attack«. This is interesting, because it does not only contain a destructive energy, but also a proceeding, solution-oriented energy. We also speak of tackling problems or approaching a task. During the course of the centuries, the component of attacking and destroying appears to have become dominant, so much so, that we judge aggression nowadays negatively and see the result to be destruction, violence and war. It is easily understandable now, why people are having such a difficult time to deal naturally with their aggressions that they express or restrain. We have put a negative mark on it. And we neither want to carry something negative inside us, nor do we want to voice it.

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Jules Verne’s journeys to the Moon

It is fascinating how the French writer Jules Verne (1828–1905) envisaged the journey to the Moon 100 years in advance in his science fiction novels and was able to put it into words. Admittedly, he was quite taken with describing journeys to unimaginable places: from the deep sea (“20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”), via the circumnavigation of the Earth (“Around the World in 80 Days”) through to the interior of the Earth (“Journey to the Center of the Earth”). Of course, space had to be part of this and this is how Jules Verne firstly wrote the novel “From the Earth to the Moon” (»De la Terre à la Lune«, 1865) and then later the sequel “Around the Moon” (»Autour de la Lune«, 1870).

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Trash on the Moon

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While the waste problem continues to assume serious dimension on our planet, we find, when examined more closely that people do not only leave trash behind on Earth. Thus, there are tons of scrap metal from satellites and rockets, which circle around the Earth, and also on the deserted Moon there is already a lot of waste that has been left behind by astronauts on their missions. Furthermore, there are countless space probes on the Moon, which were deliberately smashed or landed there, after relevant images and data had been transmitted to Earth. Clearly, it appears to be part of human nature to produce waste and to spread it everywhere on a large scale.

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