Posts Tagged ‘moon

Supermoon is nothing to worry about

Posted in Scienceon Mar 18, 2011

I read this headline today, and I wanted to respond:

‘SuperMoon’ will be closest in 18 years, prompting fears

The moon’s orbit is not perfectly circular; it is more oval shaped so that the moon sometimes is closer to the earth than others. The point of the moon’s orbit when the moon is closest to the earth is called the lunar perigee. The term people through around when the lunar perigee happens at the same time as a full moon is ‘Supermoon’, and it turns out that there will be such a supermoon on Saturday.

Supermoons actually occur pretty regularly, between 4-6 times per year. And while Saturday’s perigee is a little more extreme than it has been in 18 years, meaning the moon is the closest it has been to earth in that time, the duration of such extremity is relatively short.

I think some people hear the term ‘extreme supermoon’ and get a little freaked out, like there will be extreme gravitational forces on earth. Some will try to attribute things like the earthquake in Japan to it, but the truth is that the distance to the moon was actually further than average when the earthquake hit Japan. The supermoon will likely cause larger tides and slightly better moon viewing experiences, but most people won’t notice any effects greater than any other full moon.

If anything (and I’m not suggesting it is worth anything), we should be worried when a lunar perigee occurs at the same time as a new moon. This would occur when the moon is close to the earth at the same time the sun and moon are aligned in the same direction. We are up for one of those on October 26.

If we can put a man on the moon

Posted in Politicson Aug 13, 2009

Way too often, I hear phrases like, “If we can put a man on the moon, then we should be able to accomplish some other great feat.”

For example, a quick Google search for this phrase in the last week resulted in 171 pages, which included the following:

Marvin Eisenstein leaving a comment on a NY Times blog:

If we can put a man on the moon I am sure we can solve the health care problem.

Kent Halla, in a letter to the Silver City Sun-News:

Why, if we can put a man on the moon can we not cure cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.?

An anonymous comment in a forum asks:

If we can put a man on the moon in less than a decade, could we not help repair the only planet we’ll ever know by showing the same dedication and bearing the same burden of common purpose?

But the problem is, we can’t put a man on the moon.  According to a Washington Post article, “NASA doesn’t have nearly enough money to meet its goal of putting astronauts back on the moon by 2020.”

Our government no longer has the ability to put a man on the moon.  Although President Obama appointed a special Human Space Flight Plans Committee, the committee found that the governement would not commit enough resources or dedication to put man on the moon anytime in the next decade.

So we are stuck with a government who can’t do what they did 40 years ago: put a man on the moon.  I don’t know why they think they can take on the governement, make cars more efficient, cure cancer, fix healthcare, etc.  We pretty much have a government that is incapable of doing much of anything other than consuming tax dollars.

Update (December, 2014), XKCD Comic: