Visiting the Moon

Today we visited the museum of the Moon, an art installation which is on till tomorrow. We got in free but there have been events there that you had to pay for.

The Moon is a huge inflated sphere, a balloon, hung from the ceiling of the Kings Hall in Stoke-upon-trent, part of Stoke’s town hall.

I’m afraid I didn’t get the details of the artist who made it, but it is very beautiful. The Moon is fully rendered with all its craters and mare (or seas). The seas are actually flattened areas where magma or lava has welled up from the interior and flowed out across the Moon’s surface. They are caused because of the speed of impact from asteroids and meteors hitting the Moon, the energy of momentum is converted into kinetic, heat, energy.

But thats the side we see, because the Moon is tidally locked with us, so the face we see is always pointed towards the Earth. If you observe the Moon over time it swings and sways so you can see slightly more than 50% of the Moon but we never see the back. The sides, top and bottom is squashed up so its not easy to distinguish what is visible.

So walking around the installation you can see things you might only have seen in blurry film from the Apollo missions almost 50 years ago. Huge craters where impacts must have shook the Moon to its core. You realise how much more scarred and cratered the dark side of the Moon is. Pitted and dented, the back of it has been impacted over millennia.

The Moon has also slowed the Earths spin which is why when humans are shut away in dark caves to experiment with our body clocks, we think a day ends after 23 hours or so. That is because as we evolved over millions of years the Moon was orbiting the Earth closer to us, and as it moved away gradually  (less than a centimetre a year?) it slowed the Earths’ spin to 24 hours a day.

At the moment the Sun can be eclipsed by the Moon. It just happens that the Moon is 400 times closer to us than the Sun and 400 times smaller. So the Moon appears to be exactly the right size to cover the Sun when there is an eclipse. As time goes by the Moon will move further out and “perfect” eclipses will end. Finally the Moon will break away from the Earth. When that happens the Earths rotation will become chaotic. It already spins on an axis that is tipped over at about 23°. If the Moon flys off into space its gravity will no longer help hold the Earth steady. Who knows we could end up tipped right over.

I’m not an expert so my figures might not be completely accurate. If you want more information please check out Astronomy websites.

The Museum of the Moon is an installation run be Appetite. They help produce various arts projects over the year. We also heard diary entries from the First world war, and a dance performance called “in Flanders feilds.”

I drew the Moon because my camera isn’t good in low light levels. The juxtaposition of the Moon installation and the old Kings Hall made for a marvellous and eerie afternoon out.

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