This year the 1st of April produced not just the internationally recognised ‘Fools Day’ it displayed the first of April 2018’s two full moons.
Manifesting only once in every two or three years, the occurrence of a second full moon across a calendar month – a Blue Moon – this year, will take place April 30th.
The full moon is synonymous with peculiarity; apparent strange happenings mingled with a supposed relaxing of peoples’ inhibitions, ultimately it sounds like a good time for all involved – still, not surprising it only usually takes place once a month.
Astronomy is a topic that I have long found intriguing and – the planets, the stars; the immeasurable, the incomprehensible vastness of space along with all its eternally drifting matter – it’s a topic that I believe ought to warrant anybody’s interest.
Despite the name I do not believe, come the 30th, the moon’s colouring will appear any more ‘blue’ than it ever does.
Our moon is widely thought to have come to existence around 4 billion years’ ago, when a collision with a ‘wandering planet’ sent gargantuan chunks of earth/Earth hurtling out into space, then with time becoming compressed into a spherical shape, and with more time being drawn in to Earth’s gravitational orbit, so became The Moon; part of Earth yet not exactly.
On the surface of it, Earth’s moon is essentially a floating lump of dead matter, however through pressure the Moon does generate its own heat; it’s just that this heat is not adequate to create the quantity of magma which lies under Earth’s crust – hence an absence of surface heat or substantial tectonic movement – yet like Earth the Moon is said to have an iron core while unlike Earth, there is no significant atmosphere and no magnetic field.
Given the Moon’s comparatively slender tilt – 1.54 compared to Earth’s 23.45 degrees – it endures much greater extremes of weather than Earth, in fact with some portions of the Moon’s surface remaining untouched by sunlight.
That marvellous segue right there permits us to touch on a number of interesting and perhaps scarcely understood points: the fact is that our Sun, our gargantuan flaming mass, so much larger than human comprehension will even allow (also, incidentally, said to consume around 600 million tons of hydrogen every second, yet is so very large that this massive consumption of its own mass is tantamount to the evaporation of a mere water droplet in a swimming pool), is simply one of a potentially infinite number of similar, also largely unremarkable, stars. (When one gazes unto to the Milky Way for example, one sees millions of the aforementioned, largely unremarkable, celestially flaming masses.) Of those countless, largely unremarkable stars, as a result of aeons of gravitational compaction of space-dust and other floating debris, most are orbited by Solar Systems (planets that have come to existence through similar channels as our moon), not unlike the planets in Earth’s Solar System. Thus of those potentially countless stars’ potentially countless Solar Systems with their potentially countless planets, it seems unrealistic to imagine that with all that potential, there is no other planet with a proximity to its respective sun which, given a similar duration to Earth’s purported lifespan thus allowing for millions of years of evolution and such, might just afford it life-bearing capabilities.
The question therefore, ‘Could intelligent life exist on other planets?’ I believe is a query that is best answered with one word – potentially.
Blue Moon on April 30th – don’t miss it.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by E T Gahume
Photography by Blue Mooney