The moon's an arrant thief,
And her pale fire she snatches from the sun.


The Moon


The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to.

How many moons does the Earth have?

In the A series, we said the earth had two moons. In the B series, we said there were either five or one, but definitely not two. These ideas were novel at the time (and quite controversial) but scientists now think the Earth has thousands of moons. At least one is the size of a washing machine, with a thousand more as big as a basketball. NASA calls them ‘mini-moons’ or Temporarily Captured Objects (TCOs). Most stay in orbit for about a year before spinning back into space or burning up in Earth's atmosphere. Computer simulations of the paths of the 10 million asteroids in the Solar System suggest 18,000 of them are going round the earth at any one time. Only one has so far been confirmed by direct observation. RH120 is about the size of a car and made four orbits of the Earth in
What we think we know changes over time. What was once accepted as true is shown to be plain wrong. As most scientific theories of the past have since been disproven, it is arguable that much of today’s orthodoxy will also turn out, in due course, to be flawed. This is called ‘pessimistic induction’.
Studies of the frequency of citations of scientific papers show they become obsolete at a predictable rate. Harvard mathematician Samuel Arbesman calls this ‘the half-life of facts’. Just as with radioactive decay, you can’t tell when any one ‘fact’ will reach its expiry date, but you can predict how long it will take for half the facts in any discipline to do so. In medicine, for example, ‘truth’ seems to have a 45-year half-life. Some medical schools teach students that, within a few years, half of what they’ve been taught will be wrong – they just don’t know which half. In mathematics, the rate of decay is much slower: very few accepted mathematical proofs get disproved.

Flags on the Moon

For 40-odd years, the US flags on the Moon have been exposed to the full fury of the lunar environment – 14 days of searing sunlight and 100°C heat, alternating with 14 days of darkness and -150°C cold. Even more damaging is the intense ultraviolet radiation from the Sun, unfiltered by any atmosphere. Even on Earth, the colours of flags flown for many years in bright sunlight fade and have to be replaced. The flags on the Moon will have been bleached white.
Apollo 11’s flag was knocked over in the blast as Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong left the moon in the lunar lander. Lying in the dust, not only has all the colour been bleached out but the nylon has probably turned brittle and disintegrated. Dennis Lacarrubba, whose New Jersey-based company made the flag in 1969 and sold it to NASA for $5.50 says, ‘I can’t believe there would be anything left. I gotta be honest with you. It’s gonna be ashes.’
If there are any coloured flags on the Moon they will be from the recent Chinese 'Jade Rabbit' mission.

Moon dust smells like gunpowder.

The Moon is shaped like an egg: it only looks round because the big end points towards Earth.

You can sometimes see ‘moonbows’ caused by light from the moon refracted by water droplets.
MARK TWAIN (1835-1910)

Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.