The last day sundown of July was quite something special. From my backyard I cannot see the sun itself set as it slips behind a wooded hill and neighbouring houses. Yet last night the way the lowering sun reflected its dying light off the clouds it was almost like a 360 degree sunset. The sky in the image was taken facing the east.
I am always taken by clouds, and the different types and layers that decorate the sky, and how the changing light interplays with all these elements. Sometimes it is like peering out the window of our world with fresh, clean eyes, making a connection with the cosmos that stirs the emotions perhaps on a primitive level. After all, that window out is the very same window that humankind has been looking through from the dawn of ages. And maybe, just maybe, it is that recognition that we are a part of something much bigger and that sense of ‘feeling’ and connection that trully makes us human and what and who we are.
Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
I love dramatic skies, especially as storms are looming or lumbering past. I love the way you can see the silver linings on clouds and the peeking sun and reflecting light amidst these huge and dark, floating behemoths.
Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer
This is the first quarter moon, or also known as waxing gibbuous, and it is actually the third phase of each moon cycle. There are eight moon phases which progress in the same manner each month.
The isolated dark spot towards the top right is called Mare Crisium, ‘Sea of Crises’. Directly below that where there is another dark spot is Mare Fecunditatis ‘Sea of Fecundity’ or ‘Sea of Fertility’. The larger darker areas which are partly merged are called, rather beautifully, Mare Tranquillitatis ‘Sea of Tranquility’, and Mare Serenitatis ‘Sea of Serenity’ above. Further down is another sea, Mare Nectaris ‘Sea of Nectar’.
There are other seas on the moon, collectively called lunar maria, which were named so for early astronomers believed they were actually large bodies of water, seas or oceans. They are actually large and dark basaltic plains formed by ancient volcanic eruptions.
We can also just about see a close trio of craters just below halfway, near the Sea of Nectar. These are called, starting with the top most, Theophilus, which is a very prominent impact crater, Cyrillus and Catharina. The Apollo 16 mission collected several pieces of basalt that are believed to be ejecta from the formation of Theophilus some billions of years ago. You can also just make out a mountain which lies in the centre of Theophilus.
The two distinct craters at the top are called, starting with top most again, Aristoteles, named after the Greek philospher Aristotle. The crater directly to the south of Aristoteles is called Eudoxus.