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Astronomy - Research Paper Example

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Instructor name Date The Moon The moon has been the subject of wonder, story, rhyme and song since the beginnings of mankind. People’s fascination with the moon has extended to fairy tale and myth, religious ceremony, hunting and farming rituals, boating routines and romance…
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Download file to see previous pages The moon allows and sustains life on Earth, affects its tides daily and though not a mystery to the same degree as it had been throughout all of history, it continues to inspire the imagination and much remains to be learned of Earth’s closest celestial neighbor. Today, people more or less look upon the moon as ‘eye candy’ and pay little attention to its cycles. This was not the case for our ancestors who carefully monitored its movements. Several calendars of ancient civilizations were based on the cycles of the moon and some are currently such as the Islamic calendar. The date of the Chinese New Year is set by the cycle of the moon. The Sun was used by man until relatively recently to measure short intervals of time but the moon was judged more reliable for longer time measurements. What is commonly known as a month is based on the 29-day cycle of the moon. The term ‘month’ is derived from the term ‘moonth.’ “Without the moon’s cycle we might have ended up with a very different way of keeping track of time, and we most probably would have called it something other than a month” (Miles & Peters, 2001). The Christian celebration of Easter is calculated by determining the first Sunday following the first occurrence of a ‘full’ moon subsequent to the beginning of the Spring Equinox. The reason for this is that Christians had traditionally used the light of the ‘full’ moon to aid in their pilgrimage to their holy lands for Easter. Though the moon is the closest object to Earth and has been explored by man, questions remain regarding its exact origins and whether or not life ever existed on or within it or if it could sustain life. It was discovered more than a century ago that the moon’s density is less then Earth’s. Galileo noticed craters on the moon’s surface through the use of the telescope in the 1600’s. Currently, more is known about the moon than any other celestial body, knowledge that was inconceivable until recent times (Hamilton, 2005). Prior to the common use of telescopes, when the moon was viewed unaided, all that could be discerned were two distinct kinds of topography, dark and bright areas configured in a way that produced the illusion of the ‘Man in the Moon.’ This myth was likely known as just that to most persons of the world but before recent times it was not known that the dark areas were produced by the violent impacts of asteroids hitting the moon many hundreds of million years ago. These primordial impacts on the lunar surface played a large part in reshaping the moon’s appearance and could explain why there are two large protrusions on the surface of the moon. “New analysis reveals that shock waves from some of the moon’s early asteroid impacts traveled through the lunar interior, triggering volcanic eruptions on the moon’s opposite side. Molten magma spewed out from the deep interior and flooded the lunar landscape” (Than, 2006). The cooled magma created the familiar dark areas which are termed ‘lunar seas.’ These dark areas unite to form the ‘face’ of the moon. The Man in the Moon’s eyes have been labeled “’Mare Imbrium’ and ‘Mare Serenitatis’. The nose, ‘Sinus Aestuum’ and the mouth, which appears to be smiling, is a combination of the ‘Mare Cognitum’ and ‘Mare Nubium’” (Heiken et al, 1991). The Earth’s sky appears to be blue because its atmosphere diffracts light in such a way that produces this ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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