Thursday, February 24, 2011

I'll See You on the Near Side of the Moon

Behold, the majesty of the cold pearl of night, captured in the highest resolution ever recorded:
According to this link provided by Discover Magazine (they still publish that amazing mag?), this image is the culmination of two weeks of shooting, after which scientists pieced together "a mosaic of about 1300 separate images taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Wide-Angle Camera — the total size is a whopping 24,000 x 24,000 pixels."

I have no idea what that means, but when people smarter than I put a pixel measurement in bold, then I'm pretty sure that I'm excited about it, and consider myself lucky to gaze upon such a hard won, crystal clear snapshot of the celestial body that allows the earth to maintain its perfect balance.  Without it, we'd be screwed.  And bulgy.  But mostly screwed...  We don't want our tides controlled by the sun, which is what would happen if Luna went away.  Tis true.  The History Channel says so...  Yes, I geek out on a semi-regular basis to HC (or simply "History," which they need to stop trying to make happen), where I ran across this interesting installment of "The Universe":

Without the moon, Earth would be a very different and desolate place today--four hours of sunlight with pitch-black nights, steady 100-mph winds spawning giant hurricanes that last for months, and virtually no complex life forms, much less humans. Safe to say, we probably owe our very existence to the moon. But what if it suddenly disappeared? Solar gravity redirects ocean water that floods coastal spots around the globe. Sea currents shift, resulting in freakish weather patterns. Eventually, earth's axis begins fluctuating wildly and climate change grows more extreme. The poles are tropical jungles and parts of the equator become frigid wastelands. Human evolution starts churning in unpredictable ways or ends completely. Without the moon, the Earth is a very different place. 

So let's appreciate - in Super Hi-Def - our Moon, which was born from the ribs of our newly formed Earth like Eve from Adam, and - so much like our better, tinier halves - keeps us happy, sane, and alive.

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