When the sun sets


The sun was setting and the sky turned pink at spode today. I looked up and saw the moon. A tiny bit bigger than half moon and I realised that you could work out where the sun was setting. Basically imagine you were shining a torch on a ball. If the torch was directly to the side if the ball the ball would be exactly half light and 🌗 half dark  Now if the torch was lower but shining directly on the ball it would be half light and half dark but tipped at an angle depending how low below the horizon the torch (or ☀ sun) was. Now imagine if the torch was level but was shining slightly to the side of the moon nearest us? Then the line between light and dark would shift and curve. The line shifts every night till full moon, then as it passes full moon the shadow starts to get cast on the other side. This leads to the understanding that when we get an eclipse the Earth gets directly between the Moon and the Sun… . Oh I know all of this is simple, but I’d never actually thought it out for myself……

P.S. now 5 hours later the angle of the moon is tipped up so that the curve is on a slant … so the sun is clearly lower down and the moon has moved. .but it also shows the world is rotating too…


Time and tide wait for no man

Tidal reef,

High tide……

Why tide?

The Moon pulls on the Earth and the Earth pulls on the Moon. They are gravitationally linked so that one face of the Moon always faces us and the water in our oceans is attracted upwards towards it by its gravity. On the other side of the world there is also a rise in the waters because there is less gravitational pull on the oceans because they are futher away from the moon…..

Why high tides?

The water is pulled up so far by the moon, but as water flows inwards towards the land as the tide comes in it can also rise further if it is pushing into a narrowing area such as a gap between two islands or into the narrowing channel of a river or stream. In this case sometimes the water can overtop the banks if it is a particularly high tide, such as a spring tide. The water will rise higher if it is forced into the estuary by wind as well as tidal forces.

One third of the world’s population live on various coast lines around the world. If the world continues to warm up then these people will be at risk from the rising tides caused by global warming. Many countries have built costal defenses but these are being damaged every year during stormy weather. Replacing the damaged protective barriers is being abandoned in some places as not cost effective and some costal salt marshes are being recreated to protect the land.

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.

Ways to prove the Earth is not flat!


I keep hearing about people who think the Earth is flat so I decided to do a thought experiment to see if it is possible…

• If the Earth was flat it would be daytime all over the world at the same time, or night time all over the world.

• The sun would rise at the same time everywhere and set at the same time.

• There would be no equator, and all parts of the world would be at the same temperature.

• There would be no north and south poles and no northern or southern lights.

• There would be no need for time zones.

• Flat earthers say the horizon is flat, but that is because the globe of the Earth has a very large circumference.

• If the Earth was flat boats would not go over the horizon.

• If the Earth was flat you would be able to see all the way to the other side using a powerful telescope on top of a big building.

• If the Earth was flat we would be able to travel to the edge.

• A flat Earth would cast a flat shadow on the moon during an eclipse of the moon. (this is because the Earth is between the Sun and the Moon when it happens and if the Flat side was facing the Sun if would be overhead and you would not see the moon, but it would cast a circular shadow).

•  Finally….If the Earth is flat….what’s on the other side? Is it Elephants and Turtles all the way down? ( according to Terry Pratchett)

Red Moon, Red Mars.


Tonight I was promised celestial beauty. An eclipse of the Moon, as Earths shadow would pass across it leaving only red light, which has a longer wavelength, to get past and paint the Moon red. Not only that butthis s was due to be the longest eclipse of this century. And to add to the excitement Mars is at its closest approach to the Earth for fifteen years. It is actually up there in the sky shining brighter than Sirius, the dog star…..

Celestial fireworks indeed…I have seen lunar eclipses before, usually as the moon is rising in the east and just around the time the Sun is setting in the west. They make the moon look round! Its strange but because of the lunar soil and dust it looks quite flat normally, but when you see it eclipsed, it looks like a Christmas bauble in the sky…

Mars is also red, and it looks even redder at the moment because it is having a world wide dust storm that obliterated any changes in tone, leaving a blank world facing us, but making it more reflective for sunlight hitting it.

So, waiting for both objects to rise,  and after several weeks of almost cloudless sky’s…A big grey cloud floated across the view, no gaps, no glimpses. No, just like previous sky watchers my plan to view the eclipse came to nothing.

Never mind, Mars won’t fade too quickly and the Moon will be eclipsed again. Meanwhile I think I will go try and find the telescope. It must be in the shed…

Something spooky?

For the last few nights the Moon has been close to Venus ….FB_IMG_1524173492793FB_IMG_1524173482026FB_IMG_1524173492793so I took these on thursday night with my phone camera..IMG_20180421_001900_423

And each one showed up the Moon, but Venus was very faint, and the bright light on the canal warehouse was shining so bright that you can barely see the pixel of light that is Venus.

But then I like duplicating photos, and there was one with the moon glimmering through the branches of a willow tree so I decided to use the layout app to switch one photo through 180 degrees.

Much to my cheer I realised the glimmers look like eyes! The branches and leaves like hair, the roof looks like shoulders.. it could be a monstrous alien……

(I also see faces and animals in patterned wallpaper)