Tech UPTechnologyIsaac Asimov and the Moon

Isaac Asimov and the Moon

Someday when theMonthIt’s a busy world, with miners, electrical engineers, metallurgists and astronomers all working there, will tourists go too? What can be done on the Moon? What will there be to see?

Suppose excursions are organized to the lunar mining centers. People would go to see the machines work and visit the lunar telescopes on the far side. And it might even be fun to experience gravity less than Earth’s.

I have a feeling, however, that the main tourist attraction on the Moon will be itsDarling, much more magnificent than ours … when you can look at it, which is not always. Indeed, the Moonrotates very slowly with respect to the Sun, once every 29.5 Earth days; Two weeks pass between sunrise and sunset on the Moon, and another two weeks between sunset and sunrise.

During thedaytime period of weeks, tourists will have to stay in underground facilities, as temperatures are very high and solar radiation, without an atmosphere to absorb it, is too dangerous. Thenight periodTwo weeks will be the high season for tourism anywhere on the Moon. The stars are much brighter and sharper there than they are on Earth, because there is no atmosphere to absorb light or maketo blinkincident light. Many of the stars that are too faint to see from Earth will be visible from the Moon, and there will never be clouds. It would be like being in a planetarium that never turns off … with one condition, and that is that there is nothing but stars in the sky.

Indeed, the Moon does not rotate at all with respect to the Earth. One of the faces – the one closest to us – always faces the Earth; the other – the farthest – always looks in the opposite direction. On the far side, the furthest away, the Earth never appears in the sky, and the stars are the only objects to be contemplated. On the near side, on the contrary, the Earth is permanently in the sky and no one will notice the stars.

TheLand, seen from the Moon, goes through the same phases and in the same time as the Moon seen from the Earth, only in reverse order. In other words, when we see a full moon from Earth, tourists on the Moon will see“new land”. And when we have a full moon here, the lunar tourists will have“full earth”.

During the two-week nocturnal period (if we were to place ourselves in the center of the near face), the Earth is at the zenith, where it remains motionless except for a sway called “hover.” At sunset, the Earth is in a crescent quarter and looks like a bright semicircle of light. The semicircle expands until, after a week, we see the entire Earth as a bright circle. The illuminated part of the Earth then begins to contract in the opposite direction until it is in a last quarter (a semicircle facing the other side) at dawn.

If you change your position on the next face, the Earth will change its position and descend into the sky. Once the new observation post is chosen, the Earth will also remain fixed in the sky. Depending on the new location of the observer, the full earth will arrive sooner or later in the course of the lunar night; but what is certain is that at some point in the night there will be a full earth.

And what Earth will it be then! Our planet is larger in the lunar sky than the Moon in the terrestrial sky; the Earth reflects a larger fraction of incident sunlight than the Moon; and in this there is no atmosphere that absorbs the terrestrial light, adding all these factors,the full earth that shines on the moon does so with seventy times the light that the full moon casts on the earth.

Imagine that we are on the lunar surface, bathed in bright terrestrial light. There would be enough light to read, it would not be uncomfortably hot, and there would be no dangerous radiation. Placing ourselves in the center of the near face, with the earth full at the zenith, the soft white terrestrial light would practically cast no shadows around us. At any other point, with the full earth lower in the sky, there would be fish-black shadows, where one could stand to gaze at the stars.

On the other hand, the Earth will not have that immutable face that the Moon has. It will be ablue and white circle of luz, and through the swirling clouds we would glimpse the brown color of desert areas (especially using binoculars). Also, cloud layers will continually change as Earth rotates and winds blow.

And yet the most beautiful sight of all would be given during the day, when, on certain occasions, it was possible to go up to the lunar surface and look up at the sky.

Original article: “By the light of the Earth”, Isaac Asimo v. VERY Interesting nº 57 (February 1986)

 

 

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