#17 The Moon

The Moon (in French, "Lune", from the Latin "Luna", meaning "Earth's little buddy") isn't as bright as you probably think. It appears bright at night when everything else around you is dark and there's nothing illuminated by the Sun to compare it to, but it's really not all that bright. If you were standing on the Moon, its surface would be as dark as a newly-paved asphalt road or a lump of coal.

The picture above isn't real, but it's a good approximation of how bright the Moon would look compared to Earth. The distance from Earth to the Moon is about thirty times the Earth's width, so the Moon should really be about three or four monitor-widths off to the right, and not even remotely as close as I've depicted it. However, the relative brightness is reasonably accurate.

Sometimes you'll see similar images released by NASA, but they've artificially brightened up the Moon a bit. I think they do this because they think it looks nicer, and perhaps they want to provide work for the conspiracy theorists.

What would Earth look like in the sky if you were standing on the Moon? Well, picture how big the Moon looks in the sky when you see it at night, and then look at the image of the Moon above. See how big Earth is in the image? Well, that's how much bigger Earth would appear, compared to the Moon that you're already familiar with. It'd be enormous! Also, due to Earth's much larger size and brightness, Earth would appear fifty times as bright as the Moon would from Earth. Try to imagine all this the next time you're outside at night looking up at the Moon in frustration when you've given up trying to remember where you parked your car.

This reminds me of another important issue. How did our planet wind up with a lame-ass name like Earth, instead of Cardassia or Megalon 14? When the alien overlords show up, and they ask what we call our planet, and somebody says "Earth," they'll probably assume that the feeble Human ambassador is simply clearing his throat, and politely wait for the actual answer.

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