Is the “dark side” of the moon truly as dark as we think it is?
From Earth, we only see one side of our companion satellite. The moon is “tidally locked” with our planet, with the result that it always presents the same face to us.
Because we can’t see the side of the moon facing away from the Earth, we sometimes assume that it’s in perpetual darkness.
But this isn’t so. The “dark side” of the moon (which should more accurately be called the “far side”) gets just as much sunlight as the face we see. All sides of the moon receive the sun’s light equally in turn.
From the sun’s perspective, the moon doesn’t have a dark side at all.
It’s our perspective that throws us off and leads us to the wrong conclusion.
We can easily fall prey to misconceptions about our own lives, too. When we don’t have the right perspective, we can assume that things are darker than they really are.
Naomi in the Old Testament Book of Ruth certainly made this mistake.
Sometimes we don’t realize what we’re looking at, do we?
This winter solstice is a good example of that, because tonight we’ll be able to see a particularly bright “star” in the night sky.
That is, you might assume it’s a star, but you’ll actually be seeing something quite different.
This rare “Christmas star” will actually be a planetary conjunction. The planets Jupiter and Saturn will be so closely aligned tonight that they will appear to be one ultra-bright object.
At other times, a bright “star” you see might actually be a binary star system; that is, two stars orbiting each other. Or it could be the planet Venus. You’d need to study it through a telescope, adjust your focus and consult an astronomical guide to know for sure.
The truth is, sometimes we don’t really understand what we’re seeing.
That was certainly true for many of the people who saw the baby Jesus and the star which heralded His birth.
What’s your favourite Christmas tradition? Is it exchanging gifts, baking special desserts, decorating the tree, or perhaps wearing ugly Christmas sweaters?
For many of us, our most cherished Christmas tradition probably involves lights, whether they’re on your own Christmas tree, or decorating houses in your neighbourhood. Some people go all out, putting tens of thousands of lights on their home, as in the example pictured above. Apparently, the interior of that house is decorated with the same exuberance, and with all the lights on, the homeowner can’t use the microwave without blowing all the fuses.
This season is inextricably linked to lights, but might we have missed the most important light of all?
What’s your idea of the perfect Christmas? Many of us have images in our minds of what the ideal Yuletide should look like.
It usually involves a spectacular Christmas tree with enticing gifts piled beneath it. The house would be decorated with pine boughs and red bows inside, and the exterior decked out with lights. The day itself would feature a scrumptious dinner with all the fixings, and numerous home-baked desserts. Top it all off with a house full of family, friends and laughter.