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Lazy moon, come out soon. You can make me happy, if you will.
As the brightest and biggest thing in the night sky, the moon has inspired music, poetry and stories for centuries. Federico Garcia Lorca wrote a ballad about it. Debussy composed a piece for piano. Frank Sinatra wanted someone to fly him there.
Many peoples and civilisations have made the moon part of their beliefs. In Hinduism, it contains soma, a drink that gives the gods immortality. When the Maoris look at the moon, they see a woman holding a bucket who they call Rona. She controls the tides and makes rain when she is angry by pouring the water out. The Inuit think the moon chases his sister the sun across the sky. He becomes thin, like a crescent, because he forgets to eat while he is running. In parts of Europe, people believed a full moon made people mad. The word lunacy comes from the name of the Roman Goddess, Luna.
In the Muslim year, Ramadan begins when the new moon appears. Christians count fourteen days after the first full moon of the Spring Equinox and celebrate Easter on the next Sunday. The Chinese have a moon festival in autumn when people read and write poetry and eat moon cakes- small and round with sweets inside. In Thailand, people send boats down the river with candles in them under the full moon during Loy Krathong.
People will tell you that crime rises and the number of suicides and traffic accidents go up on nights when there is a full moon. No study has a found significant increase, however. Some believe the lunar cycle and the human menstrual cycle are linked, and that women are influenced by the phases of the moon. Pure coincidence. The lunar cycle is regular –every 29.5 days - while women’s are slightly shorter and start at different times.
Another belief is that the pull of the moon’s gravity has an influence on people like it does on the sea. However, the tides are only affected by the moon because they combine with the force of the earth as it spins. Someone estimated that a mosquito has more gravitational effect on us than the moon.
And I’m sorry to say that the Great Wall of China is not visible from the moon. But you can see it from a satellite in orbit around the earth.
In July 1969, it took about seventy hours to get there by rocket. All the computing power they used then now exists inside just one personal computer!
Everyone knows that there is no air on the moon and very little gravity. But it is a hostile environment to humans in other ways. Like a desert, it gets very hot during the day (130ºC) and very cold at night (minus118ºC), which is why you need a space suit.
A total of twelve men have walked on the moon. Their footprints are still there because there’s no wind or water to obliterate them. One astronaut, Alan Sheppard, hit a golf ball that went 800 metres because of the lack of gravity. Presumably, it’s still there too.
Some people don’t believe anybody has been to the moon at all. They think it was all simulated in a desert or a film studio. But then thirteen per cent of adults in the USA still believe that part of the moon is made of cheese…
Do you want to be buried on the moon? Only one person has; Eugene Merle Shoemaker, one of the original brains behind the US Space program. His ashes were put there after he died in 1997. Scientists think that the moon itself is the remains of a collision between the earth and another planet, but its exact origins are still a mystery.