‘At conjunction the moon occupies a position between the sun and the earth; it is then illuminated by the sun’s rays on the side which is turned away from the earth. The other hemisphere, which faces the earth, is covered with darkness; hence the moon does not illuminate the surface of the earth at all. Next departing gradually from the sun, the moon comes to be lighted partly upon the side it turns toward us, and its whitish horns, still very thin, illuminate the earth with a faint light. The sun’s illumination of the moon increasing now as the moon approaches first quarter, a reflection of that light to the earth also increases. Soon the splendour on the moon extends to a semicircle, and our nights grow brighter; at length the entire visible face of the moon is irradiated by the suns resplendent rays, and at full moon the whole surface of the earth shines in a flood of moon light. Now the moon, waning, sends us her beams more weakly, and the earth is less strongly lighted; at length the moon returns to conjunction with the sun, and black night covers the earth.’
Extract from Sidereus Nuncius (The Starry Messenger) 1610 by Galileo Galilei translation by Stillman Drake from the book Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo.
Now there ye have it, direct and clear from the master Galileo. Read it slowly, imagine it, and animate it in your mind. Observe it for yourself, spend time with the moon soon you will understand its movements.
Galileo was a great man for sharing the moon through his telescope. He shared with other scientists, princes, students, the pope, and artists. He was compelled to share it as it was such a magnificent sight even in his small telescope. He wrote Starry Messenger to share his drawings and observations of the moon, far and wide.
The way Galileo writes about the moon pulls you in to be part of his exploration. He thereby transports his readers to share his thoughts as he figures out the lunar surface, phases and features of the moon observed over 400 years ago. Today you can still find freshness pouring from his enquiring mind in his descriptive writing.
Sharing the moon with the public is an affliction borne with large smiles by many astronomers all over this planet. It’s amazing that there are so many people today that have never had an up close and personal view of the moon in a telescope. International observe the moon night invites astronomers to show the moon to people on September 22nd. This is a global event, with an increasing bubble of participants.
If you have binoculars or a telescope consider joining in and showing the moon to your neighbours. Register here its easy.
Check the map for other IFAS clubs sharing the moon on the night
The moon is a constant in our existence; our eyes are drawn by it to look up from all over the planet. Galileo made sense of the moon for us, at great risk to his freedom. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin lifted the entire planet by landing on it for the first time back in 1969. On September 22nd you can easily pick out the Sea of Tranquillity with your eyes. Wink at the moon is an action request from Neil Armstrong’s family, to honour his memory. It’s also a really cool simple public outreach exercise.
Weather permitting I will be on the promenade near Bray head with St Cronan’s Stargazers and our telescopes from 19:00 hrs till 20:30 approx September 22nd.