Lava Love

Saturday, October 16, 2021 (October’s fullest moon [“Hunter”] rises on the 20th.)

The Moon’s in the news. Tonight NASA and lunar enthusiasts will celebrate “International Observe the Moon 2021”. There will be live-streaming.

Today’s header photo is a NASA image showing rocks, looking as familiar as shoes on our feet. We Oregonians know fused rocks as bedrocks. In fact my house stands on solid bedrock, which disallows digging, say for a garden. An ongoing chore, to improve my property’s pathways, is digging up and moving lava rocks. It’s work often stopped cold upon bumping into bedrock. Today’s header image could be of a spot almost anywhere in Oregon.

It’s of bedrock, but on Mars. It’s in that planet’s Jezero crater, as taken by NASA’s Mars rover. Those rocks are layered in ways that prove to scientists that the crater once held liquid water. The photo reconfirms that Mars way in its past had rivers and flowing water.

I’m always looking at night moons. Today, I learned there’s a scientific field, called selenology, which studies the moon and strengthens NASA’s Moon knowledge. The latest knowledge comes from China’s sample-return-mission, which last December landed on the Moon’s largest lava field, Oceanus Procellarum, or the Ocean of Storms. After samples were returned to Earth, selenologists confirmed that the Moon’s lava field once was very stormy, and such so that storms created liquid rock. It covered the crater, eventually solidified into a dark plain.

To our naked eyes, that storm-formed dark plain is visible, in the Moon’s northwestern quadrant, a section that forever has been an object of human dreams and fantasies. In my childhood, that dark section had me nearly believing in “a man in the moon”. I always try to conjure my own theories, for surely the dark area has meaning. Now we understand, it’s a lava field.

Chinese selenologists have calculated the age of Moon’s lava field, as about two billion years old, or less than half the age of Moon itself. Throughout the existence on Earth of living creatures, those evolving with brains have been awed by the Moon and beheld it in admiration and wonder.

So now, although planets in our solar system like Mars and Moon, might not altogether be unfamiliar, our fascination with them continues. Tonight’s webcast offers both a scientific and cultural expedition to the Moon, with close-ups of the lunar surface.

NASA will host the hour-long event, starting at 7:30 p.m. EDT. We can watch on youtube, here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlvHN18NQUM

You may go to that link early and sign up for a reminder. Here on the west coast, the event begins at 4:30 p.m.

Dear Friends: Hunter’s Moon still is waxing, and in five days will rise at its fullest. Diana

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