The only celestial body on which man has ever set foot, the moon has always held great fascination for us. But not since Apollo 11 has the world been so enthralled with the moon as it is today. With Nasa’s Grail twins and China’s rush to set up its first lunar space-station, the moon is back and how!
MISSIONS TO THE MOON
PIONEER 0 – Failed lunar orbiter (USA)
Launched: August 17, 1958
The first ever attempt by man to explore the lunar landscape was by the United States. Sadly however, the dream ended just 77 seconds after take off when the rocket’s first stage exploded. It was not until Pioneer 4 in 1959 that the US had a successful run.
LUNA 3- Successful lunar flyby (USSR)
Launched: October 4, 1959
Not one to be left behind, or undeterred by previous failures, USSR sent Luna 3 into space — the first spacecraft to take pictures of the far side of the moon. While they might be considered poor-quality pictures by today’s standards, they caused much excitement around the world as the far side of the moon was a completely new territory back in 1959. Because of these pictures, the Russians were the first to name features on the far side of the moon.
Apollo 11 – Successful first manned lunar landing (USA)
Launched: July 16, 1969
Do we need to say more? After a series of successful unmanned missions in Nasa’s Apollo programme, they made history the 11th time. Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin became the first men to land on the moon, within the Sea of Tranquility, while astronaut Michael Collins orbited overhead. They remained on the lunar surface for a little over 21 hours and returned to Earth on July 24, 1969, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.
SELENE (Kaguya)Lunar orbiter (JAXA, Japan)
Launched: September 14, 2007
Kaguya was Japan’s entry into the league of extraordinary satellites to have orbited the moon. It’s expected to have captured the most detailed map of the moon’s gravity field yet acquired. The spacecraft also studied the composition and topography of the lunar surface; mapped the magnetic field; and studied the radiation environments of Earth, Jupiter and Saturn. It was the first to carry an HDTV camera for obtaining HD images of the moon and Earth.
Chandrayaan–1 Lunar orbiter (Isro, India)
Launched: October 22, 2008
India’s unmanned mission to the moon might have come decades after the rest, but the mission proved to be a major boost to the country’s space programme. Chandrayaan-1 is India’s first satellite to leave Earth orbit. Among the mission accomplishments included setting up of the first Indian deep-space radio communications antenna.
MAN AND THE MOON
Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543)
The Polish astronomer was the first to overturn Greek astronomy by developing a heliocentric model of the solar system, which proposed the possibility of the sun being the centre of the cosmos.
Galileo Galilei (1564–1642)
Having constructed the telescope, Galileo was the first to explain the perfection of the heavens. He concluded that the dark lines on the lunar surface were actually mountains and valleys. He also discovered four moons revolving around Jupiter and observe lunar librations, which show that the moon does not always keep exactly the same face turned toward the Earth.
Johannes Hevelius (1611–1687)
In 1647 Hevelius, a wealthy brewer in the Polish city of Gdansk, published Selenographia, the first treatise entirely devoted to the moon. He presented engravings of every conceivable phase of the moon and showed astronomers how to represent heavenly bodies.
Neil Armstrong (1930–)
On July 20, 1969, Armstrong became the first man to step foot on the moon. His famous words, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind,” were broadcasted live across VoA to over 450 million listeners worldwide.
William K Hartmann (1939–)
The American has built himself a reputation for being the best-known painter of astronomical themes; co-developed the most widely accepted theory of the formation of the moon (from the collision of a giant planetesimal with the Earth at the close of the planet-forming period of the solar system)
IN POPULAR CULTURE
Woman in the moon
As a child you might heard your grandmother telling you about the woman on the moon. She is called Chang’e and was an actually an immortal but due to her and husband’s bad behaviour , the duo were made mortals. They then attempted to achieve immortality again through the use of a pill but Chang’e got greedy and took too much of the pill and ended up floating up to the moon where she remained stuck forever.
Professor Remus ‘Moony’ Lupin from Harry Potter or Jacob from Twilight come to mind? We are not surprised. The werewolf, also known as lycanthrope, has been of great interest for generations. In Italy, France and Germany, it was said that a person could turn into a werewolf if they, on a certain Wednesday or Friday, slept outside on a summer night with the full moon shining directly on their face. It was also largely viewed in the 17th and 18th centuries that a werewolf’s transformation was supernaturally influenced by the waxing and waning of the moon. They are known to be most powerful at the bewitched hour and return to normal before sunrise.
MOVIES INSPIRED BY THE MOON
The moon has also influenced many of the Hollywood filmmakers. The journey to the moon is of course everybody’s dream. Moon, From the Earth to the Moon, Apollo 13 and most recently, Despicable Me are some of the films that are centered around the moon.
FESTIVALS ON THE MOON IN INDIA
The moon plays an important role in one’s horoscope. Some of the important festivals in India are based on the waxing and waning of the moon. For example, the first full moon day of the month of Ashwin is known as Sharad Poornima. It is also referred to as Rasa Poornima. Also is Thaipusam for those in the South, and Karva Chauth for the North. Then for the Muslims, the moon places a vital role in their festival of Eid. The Islamic calendar is ruled by the sighting of the full moon, which marks the beginning of a new month, especially the month of Ramzan.
Has there ever been a more popular or coveted dance step in the world than the moonwalk? It makes our list because, as the saying goes, this is how we imagine walking on the moon feels like. After Michael Jackson executed the dance move during a performance of Billie Jean on the historic Motown 25 show, it came to be his signature style and not to mention, a rite of passage and a secret fantasy for young boys all across the world.
SONGS ABOUT THE MOON
Pink Floyd - The Dark Side of the Moon
The Police - Walking on the Moon
Frank Sinatra - Fly me to the Moon
Drive-by Truckers - Puttin’ People on the Moon
Category: Science & Tech News