Tag Archives: moon

Check out the supermoon

I hope you’ve all saved up a couple of vacation days, because we’ve got another supermoon heading our way this Tuesday night. You’re going to need to take off from work on Tuesday to prepare, and then on Wednesday, to nurse what’s sure to be an epic supermoon hangover. Did you miss the first supermoon way back at the beginning of the summer? That’s too bad. What about the second one? Really? How could you miss two supermoons? Those are some serious prioritization problems you’ve got there.

Because just ask any astrophysicist: the supermoon is the ultimate astronomical spectator event. Solar eclipses? Overhyped and boring. Perseid meteor showers? Wow, I almost nodded off at the computer just typing out Perseid meteor shower. OK, that time I really did fall asleep. Shit, I was supposed to pick up my wife’s dry-cleaning an hour ago.

Goddamn Perseid meteor shower. Well, you missed the first two supermoons, and you didn’t really have an excuse. But it’s OK, because you’ve got one last chance to behold the glory that will be this Tuesday’s supermoon. It’s going to be awesome. Here are five reasons why you should do whatever it takes to make sure that you don’t miss it.

1. Supermoons are awesome

I can’t believe I actually have to type this out for you, but the supermoon is so f’ing cool. On a clear night, you might actually lose track of night and day, and if you’re not constantly looking at your watch to remind yourself of what time it is, it’s easy to lose your orientation in space-time. For real, during the first supermoon, I wasn’t prepared for just how incredibly bright the sky was going to be. I thought it was a lot earlier than it was, and then all of the sudden the sun started coming up. “What happened? Did I miss night?” and then I was late for work and it took me like a week to get back to my regular sleep schedule.

But for the second supermoon, I came prepared. I bought a pair of moonglasses. They’re really just a pair of sunglasses, but with a very weak tint. You know, you see them by the checkout at Urban Outfitters, you think to yourself, why would I wear those? They look like they offer almost zero protection against the sun. And that’s true. But for the blinding bright-but-not-quite-as-bright-as-the-sun light of the supermoon, they’re almost a necessity. Stock up.

2. You can see the American flags left by the astronauts

Normally you need a pair of ridiculously expensive high-tech binoculars to be able to spot one of the many United States flags planted on the moon during the heyday of the Apollo program, but not many people know that the supermoon offers a very rare opportunity for amateur moongazers to spot the beloved lunar stars and stripes with the naked eye.
I can already hear the space nerds protesting from their computer chairs: “But Rob! That’s not true! Due to the moon’s lack of atmosphere, those flags have all been bleached white thanks to a constant stream of solar radiation!” Blah, blah, blah. Let me tell you something, all right, these colors do not run. You know what that means? That means that I’m not going to let some phony elitist try to tell me that Old Glory is somehow transformed into the white flag of surrender. It’s pure baloney, and I don’t care what the scientists say, because their “no atmosphere” argument doesn’t hold up. My grandparents used to have a giant American flag in their living room. Talk about no atmosphere, what with my grandfather’s constant stream of pipe smoke combined with my grandmother’s penchant for Pall Mall’s, that place was like an atmospheric dead zone. And those colors never ran. Trust me, look closely on Tuesday night. It might take a little while, but you’ll spot them eventually, you’ll see those American flags.

3. The supermoon has super effects on the earth’s gravity

This is just basic gravitational theory: the moon is closer, that’s why it’s bigger. And the moon is pulling on us just like we’re pulling on the moon. So that’s why everything is just slightly lighter when there’s a supermoon. Don’t believe me? Weigh yourself today, and then weigh yourself Tuesday night. As long as you don’t eat an especially heavy dinner, you’ll usually see a difference from anywhere between a half a pound to a pound.

Sure, it’s not a lot, but it’s something. And if you’ve been waiting for the price of postage to drop before you sent that giant care package overseas, why not take advantage of the celestially discounted freight? If you’re in the bulk shipping business, I don’t know what to tell you, because I already told you to take off from work on Tuesday. But how are you going to cash in on all of those savings while simultaneously making sure you have enough time to appreciate the majesty of the supermoon? It’s a tough call. I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions.

4. The supermoon lessens your inhibitions

Did you know that the word lunatic has something to do with the word lunar, and thus, the moon? It’s because that those same gravitational tugs that pull your giant care package just slightly off of the scale also work the same way on liquids. That’s why there’s always a high tide during a full moon, because the moon’s gravity keeps everything in place. It also works the same way on the liquid in your body, specifically, your brain.

Ask any doctor or nurse of police officer: people are just a lot crazier during a full moon. There are more arrests made, and more crazy people being brought into the hospital. What do you think happens during a supermoon? That’s exactly right, people go totally off the wall. Which is great, because you can basically do whatever you want, and then chalk it up the next day to a bad case of moon madness. Now is the time to start taking those risks that you’d normally shrug off while the moon hangs out at apogee. Make that impulse purchase, hook up with that questionable coworker, run naked through the streets howling at the sky. You might shake your head no, like you’re somehow immune to the cosmic personality-shifting effects of the supermoon. But you’re not, so you might as well embrace the fun times ahead.

5. This is the last supermoon for a long, long time

Yeah, it’s pretty crazy that we’re getting three supermoons this summer. It’s almost getting to feel like supermoons might start becoming a regular thing. But don’t get too comfortable. In fact, I actually hate to be the one to break this to you, but after this supermoon, it’s likely that you’ll never see another supermoon again, unless you live for something like another hundred and thirteen years or so.

That’s right, while the moon’s been steadily growing larger over the course of the past four months, this Tuesday marks the end of the moon’s super cycle. After that, it’s going to start getting smaller, a lot smaller. In a couple of years from now, we’ll start marking our calendars to spot the first in a series of micromoons. At first, it might look kind of cute, charming even. But after a while, it’ll steadily recede into the background of the night sky, getting so tiny until you won’t even be able to differentiate it from the distant stars. And it’ll be really, really sad. Because how often do you we cast our glances upward to appreciate even a regular moon? No, we take it for granted, and we’re all going to be really sorry when it’s gone. So seriously, clear your schedule for Tuesday night. Watch the supermoon. It’s going to be sick.

Originally published at Thought Catalog

It would have been nice to see the blood moon

I wanted to see that lunar eclipse a few weeks ago, but it was really cloudy and you couldn’t see the sky. I wanted to check out that meteor shower last night, I read about it during the day, but I’m only thinking of it now, and so I forgot about it, I never set an alarm, I didn’t make a note to look outside. Not that you can really see any space stuff here in the city. Still, it’s nice to go outside and try, like I did with that lunar eclipse, before the clouds rolled in, you could see the start of the beginnings of a shadow start to creep across the lunar surface. When I first looked up, I swear, it looked like there was a huge chunk missing. But my awe turned to disappointment when I realized that it was already a little cloudy, and that’s what I was looking at, a celestial fake-out, a tiny circular cloud floating for just a few seconds in the moon’s way.


I’m always looking for shooting stars, when I go upstate on vacation, I’m always instantly mesmerized by that view of the heavens that you’d never even imagine is there, hiding just behind the glare of the city night sky. I wonder if you live up there, do you take it for granted? Do you even bother looking up at all? Because after a minute or so my eyes adjust and my brain starts to look for stuff that isn’t there. I see all of these phantom spots and movements out of the corners of my eye, my neck starts to hurt from craning all the way up. One time I tried to lay out on the grass so I could just take in the majestic view of the cosmos, but all of these little gnats and bugs started landing on my face, buzzing just around my ears, I was inside after like a minute or two.

I think I saw a shooting star, once. I had just turned my attention upwards and, there it was, no question about it, directly in my line of sight, if that wasn’t a shooting star, then I don’t know if anything could really be a shooting star. And what got me the most was how fast it happened. It was the most fleeting of moments I’d ever experienced in my life. Like, when I was a little kid and I went camping with my cousins and we’d all stare at the stars, I used to think they were just teasing me, “Look! I saw one!” trying to make me feel left out. But yeah, it’s totally something that, if you’re not looking right at it, it’s gone, like if you happen to be blinking, that’s more than enough time for you to miss out on the action.

One time I saw a satellite, I think. It was definitely slow moving, and streaking across the sky in a straight enough line that, if it wasn’t a satellite, well, I’m pretty sure it had to have been a satellite. But this was kind of the flip-side of the night-sky coin, like it was almost too slow. I’m always looking for that perfect moment, my eyes landing on something happening out there, wherever, outer space, and this satellite is kind of just like, way too easy. There’s a brief moment of wonder, like I found something worth looking at. But after thirty seconds, after a minute, my brain started to make sense of everything, it’s a satellite, a piece of equipment that we shot up into the sky, and it’s catching the sun’s reflection. It doesn’t really pack that same sense of wonder.

I really wanted to see the stars from the city when the entire Northeast suffered a blackout during the summer of 2003. But I was somewhere in between Georgia and South Carolina at the time, behind the wheel, making the trip back to New York from Florida. I heard all about it on the radio, how everyone was gathered outside to catch this once in a lifetime crystal clear picture of the Milky Way, right from the middle of the city. As we sped north on I-95, I just kept thinking to myself, come on, just a little longer, just don’t fix the blackout for one more night, please.

But as we crossed into Delaware, pushing north to New Jersey, I noticed that all of the toll machines were working fine, that there weren’t any signs of traffic jams. And as the streetlights flickered on as the sun set, I stared up at the muted orange twilight and knew that I’d missed it, that maybe if I were lucky I’d be able to see the North Star tonight, maybe the moon, even on the clearest of nights, all you ever get up here is one star, maybe just like two or three stars in the entire night sky.

Can you see the moon during the day?

In high school, I worked at a local restaurant on Long Island. I remember one day I was taking this table, two older couples, one of the men called me over and said something like, “Son,” because all old people do stuff like that, call any young person son, he was like, “Son, are you a good student? Do you take any science classes?”


And I’m so full of it, and I know that I’m full of it, it’s something that I’m constantly trying to work on, not acting like I know everything. But this was something like fifteen years ago, I wasn’t working on anything back then, so I shot back an immediate, “Of course I take science classes, and yes, I’m a great student.”

So this guy said, “Great, maybe you could help settle an argument we’re having. How come you can’t see the moon during the day?” And I don’t know, I couldn’t think of anything, nothing close to an answer anyway, but I wanted my response to be instantaneous, like not only am I a good student, but I’m hyper-intelligent, like I don’t even need to fully listen to your question before I start rattling off some ridiculous scientific-sounding explanation.

And that’s exactly what I did, I made up some nonsense about particles in the air being refracted by sunlight, like that’s why we can’t see the stars either, because everything’s blue, and I just kept going on and on, talking and talking for what had to have been two solid minutes. I stopped, I looked around at these four adults making eye contact with me, I took a breath and thought, OK, that sounded like a knowledgeable answer, maybe they bought it.

“Great, thanks,” the man said and went back to his chef salad or whatever it was he was eating. And I walked away, sort of confused by my own rambling answer, but weirdly self-satisfied, like, OK, even if I didn’t exactly know what I was talking about there, at least I played the role of the smart kid, at least I looked like I knew what I was talking about.

But then like a week later this sudden realization flooded my brain: of course you can see the moon during the day. It’s there all the time, you’ll be staring at the blue sky and you’ll notice the moon, right there. Jesus, what the hell was all of that baloney about particles and refraction? Why couldn’t this thought have been available when I needed it, at the table? I could have casually answered, “What are you talking about? You can see the moon during the day. More iced tea?”

And this weird interaction, it’s haunted me ever since. Not a month goes by where I don’t picture myself as this wannabe know-it-all, a guy who, when presented with a problem, with a question that I’m not prepared to answer, instead of being humble, instead of looking upon this as an opportunity to be teachable, to learn something new, I’d rather just throw a string of words together to keep alive the illusion that I’m smarter than everybody else.

A few years ago I was reading this book about space, about astrophysics dumbed down for the average non-scientist. And this point came up, the author actually stated that the moon is visible during the day just as much as it is visible at night. Instantly I was transported back to that day at the restaurant, me, a pimply-faced fifteen-year-old giving a fake science lecture to a group of four adults.

What was that guy’s angle? I always think about this too. Why get me involved? Was he having a similar moment of confusion, suddenly unable to visualize the white moon in the blue sky? I don’t think so, because even if he was blanking out, surely someone else at the table could’ve corrected him, no, you actually can see the moon during the day.

What I’ve put together in the years since is this group of four, sitting around a table lamenting the poor state of modern education. Maybe he was a scientist, or a science teacher, and in between bites of ham and hardboiled egg, he’s railing at the youth of America, “They don’t know anything, not about math, not about science,” and maybe one of the women tried to mount a defense on our behalf, “Oh Roger,” I’m imagining his name is Roger now, “Kids aren’t as bad as you’re making them out to be.”

And he was like, “Oh yeah?” before sticking his hand in the air to call me over. “Hey son, let me ask you a question about science,” and then I stood there and went, “Blah, blah, blah,” over and over again, a steady stream of absolute garbage pouring out of my mouth, and then he sends me on my way, “Great, thanks a lot.”

And as soon as I’m out of earshot, he says to the rest of the group, “You see? That kid was an idiot, a total moron!” and everyone else would have had no choice but to shrug in agreement, because yeah, that was a pretty dumb answer on my part.

So whenever I get presented with a question in life, something that I’m not sure of, I try really hard to keep that experience on hand, ready to play back in my head before I turn the old chatterbox on. Because man, I still cringe, what a dumb answer. Of course you see the moon during the day. Just stop for a second and think.

Get off your high horse

Someone said to me the other day, “Rob, get off your high horse,” and I thought about it, yeah, I don’t want to be on a high horse, I want to be on the highest horse. And even though this horse is naturally higher than all of the other horses, certainly bigger than the one I was just on, even though that first one was pretty big, I want it even higher, someone get me a pair of horse stilts, my horse knows how to gallop on horse stilts, and I’ll ride it on top of the tallest building in the country, we’ll have all of these ridiculous jumps set up, so that if you’re up there as a spectator, you’ll think to yourself, what’s that guy on that high horse going to do, ride under those jumps?

high horse

Because that’s how high they’ll be, like you’ll look at them and the idea that I’m going to get this horse to leap over those posts, no, it won’t even cross your mind. But my high horse stilts, they’re the robotic kind, they’re the kind that amputees aren’t allowed to use in the Olympics because it gives them an superhuman edge, and I’ll go, “Ya!” and my highest horse is going to whinny and then – jump! – we’ll clear every one of them, all at once, we’ll keep sailing through the sky, way past the edge of the building, by this point nobody’s even going to be scared, maybe anxious, but nobody will doubt what I’m capable of next.

Just me, just me on top of the highest horse you’ve ever seen, I’ll have a backpack on that, when I push a button, these two wings will spring out of the sides, I’ll glide for a while, I’ll be able to integrate the horse’s harness right through the backpack, so whenever I go “Ya!” or “Whoa!” or “Ho!” those will all be voice commands, I won’t even have to do anything, my highest horse will be so well trained, it’ll pull the wings up and down, it’ll be the closest thing anyone’s ever had to a Pegasus, we’ll be able to glide, or even get some lift, to go up and down.

It’s like whenever I’m talking, I can’t get in more than two sentences, someone says “Will you get off your high horse?” How about you get off your low horse? My high horse has X-ray vision. It’s complicated, but via the same backpack harness technology that allows us to fly, I’m able to access everything that my high horse is seeing, or seeing through. That’s the only thing I can’t control – it’s still a prototype – when my high horse decides to look only at the surface or use its X-ray vision to, say, see through your clothing. But when it does, I’ll see it, and as you’re berating me, telling me, “Oh Rob! Why don’t you get off of your high horse!” I’ll be like, “Hey Jeff, nice Incredible Hulk underwear!” and you’ll be like, “What? How could you?”

But I won’t even be around to watch you stammer in embarrassment. “Ya!” I’ll shout out as my high horse and I shoot for the stars. And you know that saying, that, “Shoot for the stars, if you miss, you’ll be on the moon!” well, when I shoot for the stars, my high horse and I make it to the stars. And then we stop by the moon on our way back, because what’s higher than the moon? Nothing on Earth. Go ahead and get your telescope, you thought I had a high horse on the surface, yeah, well, now I’m on the highest horse in solar system, I’m up there screaming down to everyone on the planet, I’m saying stuff like, “How do you like me now?”

And, yes, there’s no air on the moon, so unfortunately my voice doesn’t really have that carry, that same effect like it does down here, but my high horse’s whinny, I haven’t figured out how he does it, but it’s even more powerful up there, it’s enough to propel us off the surface – Pegasus wings, activate! – and we’re able to cruise right back home.

So don’t talk to me about high horses. In fact, maybe you should look into investing in your own high horse, a medium horse, whatever you can afford, feed it lots of oats, but put a sock in it, all right? Talking to me about my high horse, why don’t you get off of your soapbox, OK? You’re going to need a lot more soap than that poor excuse for a box can carry.