Society founder and Honorary President John Harper spoke to society members and visitors at the 21st March 2014 meeting of the society held at Ayton Village Hall. The content of John’s talk was all about our nearest neighbour in space, the Moon.
The talk started with an excerpt of music from the Mike Oldfield album “Incantations” featuring lyrics adapted from work written in 1509 by Ben Jonson entitled Cynthia’s Revels that addresses the Moon goddess Cynthia or Diana. It was fitting that John should open with this as the meeting coincided with the 2014 World Poetry Day.
Moving on from poetry, John started out by telling the meeting about his first sight of the Moon when only 3 and the bright object scaring him. He then moved on to introduce some of the characters that could be found in the Moon including the famous man and the lesser known lady, crab, rabbit and hare. The illusion of changing Moon size was covered and how this can be checked by holding out your little finger at arms length and how it remains approximately 0.5º in diameter.
The ideas on how the Moon came into existence were discussed including capture and the generally accepted theory of the collision of the juvenile Earth with the smaller planet that scientists refer to as Thea. The elliptical orbits of both the Earth and Moon were explained including the terms apogee and perigee when the Moon is further from and closer to the Earth respectively, the phases of the Moon over the duration of the lunar calendar and how the Moon compares in size with other major satellites in the Solar System including the Galilean moons and Titan, the largest moon of Saturn.
John then returned to folklore and explained some of the reasoning behind the naming of the Moon at particular points throughout the year including the harvest and hunters moons and the meaning of blue moon and the lesser known black moon.
The talk concluded with a quick look at the occurrence of eclipses, both solar and lunar in their full and partial forms.
We would like to thank John for putting together this fabulous talk and by all accounts, he has enough material to put together several other follow ups.