by Carmen Visser
“Be the moon and inspire people even when you’re far from full.” – K Tolnoe
I spend many evenings staring into the night sky. Specifically, I spend many evenings staring at the moon in the night sky. Whether it is a full moon or a small waxing crescent, its beauty often astounds me and renders me speechless. I am sure many have experienced this and share the love I have for the moon. A few years ago, I came across the word selenophile. It is a noun describing someone who is fond of the moon. I consider myself a selenophile.
Although, “fond of” is a light way to describe my obsession with the moon. I have moon-themed décor in my bedroom, a photo album dedicated to images of the moon and even a moon application, which shows me which phase the moon is in every minute of the day. After realising how much peace and happiness I find when I appreciate the moon’s exquisiteness, I wondered what other aspects of life the moon impacts.
You might have heard that the moon controls our daily ocean tides and although it might seem like a mystical thought instead of a scientific fact, it is true. The moon has a gravitational pull, much like earth does. Although the moon’s gravitational strength is much weaker than earth’s, it is still enough to move our waters. The moon’s gravitational field also pulls on our land, but the impact of this pull is not visible to the eye and can only be measured using precise instruments.
The moon’s gravitational pull creates bulges on each side of the earth. This, in turn, creates the tidal force. As the earth rotates during the day, a region of the earth will pass through a bulge and experience high tides. After passing through the bulge, the region will then experience low tides until it passes through the next bulge. It is also significant to note that the moon’s gravitational pull of waters in a region is strongest during the new and full moon. This is due to the fact that the moon and earth are in a straight line. The animation below shows the earth’s rotation in relation to the bulges, caused by the moon.
Considering that the moon has such a large effect on the water masses on earth, we can also assume that the moon impacts our bodies as up to 60% of the human body is water. In many traditions, the moon is said to be in control of our emotional states, especially when full or new. In addition, many believe that the moon impacts health, menstruation and even sleep.
The moon phases are said to affect our sleep.
Although many will doubt this, a study by Sleep Medicine proved the link between moon phases and sleep. They did this by testing the sleep patterns of 224 people. The results showed that during full moon, the candidates had a lower sleep efficiency and did not sleep as deep as they usually did. To ensure that the full moon’s brightness did not manipulate the results, the candidates slept in dark and windowless rooms.
From these findings, it is not far-fetched to believe that the moon affects many other physical aspects of our lives. While these might not all be proven by scientific evidence yet, I like to believe that they are true. I like to believe that the moon does have magical properties.
“As if you were on fire from within, the moon lives in the lining of your skin.” – Pablo Neruda
For decades, people have found the moon fascinating. Numerous spaceships have been sent to the moon to capture close-up images of its’ surface. A total of 12 people have set foot on that very surface. Space exploration, especially that of the moon, is still a widely discussed topic. According to NASA, many wish for astronauts to return to the moon for a number of different reasons. These include better preparation for other space exploration, scientific and historical information and creating a human settlement on the moon.
Lunar exploration has been an expanding project for decades and will continue to grow. America, Russia, Japan, China, India and Israel have all sent a spacecraft into outer space. Some of which have simply explored, while others have orbited and landed on the moon. Furthermore, many private companies are now also contributing to lunar exploration, such as SpaceX and Blue Origin. It is clear that the relationship between humans and the moon is far from over.
“The moon is always full, it’s just our view that is partial.” – Jackie Deakin