Last night around 2am I woke up. Unfortunately that sentence is one that I can use more days than I’d prefer. The older I get the less I can sleep a full 8 hours. Heck, I can’t sleep 4 hours without waking up sometimes. It isn’t because my neighborhood is too noisy, or because the dog wakes me, or because I have too much caffeine before bed. I think it’s hormonal!
Anyhow, last night I woke up at 2am and I saw this bright piercing beam of moonshine streaming through my bedroom. So I got up and went to the window and looked at the moon. What I saw freaked me out. It was a waning gibbous moon, which makes me think of monkeys every time I write it, but which has to do with how much of the moon is exposed to us earthlings. Imagine a cookie with a small bite out of it and that would be a gibbous moon. My problem with the moon was it was lying with both points of the crescent facing upwards. The missing piece was at the top of the moon and I panicked thinking the earth had slipped.
This is the kind of thinking that I’m doing at 2am.
Luckily I could pop open my laptop and consult with brilliant minds about what was freaking me out. It turns out that the earth isn’t slipping! What I was seeing was just a normal aspect of the moon! My only trouble is that I don’t watch the moon often enough to notice that it’s normal for the moon to look that way sometimes.
When we see the ‘moon phases’ we think we are seeing it’s ‘orientation’. That is a fancy word for how it looks to us from the place where we are viewing it from. The orientation of the moon changes through the night and through the month and through the year!
So there! Nothing is wrong with the moon. But I did find some cool moon related tidbits like did you know that you can’t read by moonlight? Well, some especially keen eyed folks can- but most of us can’t! It has to do with eye rods and cones and there not being enough light hitting our eyes. Also, did you know that if you were in the ‘other hemisphere’ that you’d see the darkening of the moon as it passes through it’s phases going in the opposite direction?! Oh, we also see almost 60 percent of the surface of the moon. That is right! We only get to see half, but the half we see moves around a bit. So if you look up one night and the surface seems different it is okay! The moon wobbles and the Earth shifts!