Saturday, October 20, 2007

It's Been Circling Us For A While Now

When I returned from picking up the newspapers around 1:30 this morning, I noticed the moon, about half-phase, hanging over the Administration Building of the college, almost ready to touch down on the roof.

As it sits on the horizon, rising or setting, it looks a great deal larger than when it is sailing across the night sky. It seemed particularly large tonight and, although I know it’s moving away at a rate of 1.5” per year, I wondered if perhaps we had gotten it wrong and tonight it was moving in to mash us all into bits of protoplasm before sunrise.

I stood there looking at it for a while. It’s pretty much a planet, 1/6 the size of ours, either circling earth or in a spiral rotation with us in a double-planetary spin, each rotating around the other. I’ve read both in astronomy books. As long as we’ve been here, it’s been there, “a faithful witness in the sky,” (a Bible phrase?).

Do people really look at this somewhat-planet? It’s really quite big, compared to what it circles; moons are generally quite smaller in relationship to their main body. It’s even been inhabited a few times in the past by intelligent creatures.

We might do well to get in a rocking chair some evening, before it gets too cold, and just sit on the back porch meditating about this big hunk of green cheese, or whatever it’s made out of. It’s so close, astronomically speaking, while all else except the sun are just dots on a black background. Catch it, nights and days.


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