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The Dark Side of the Moon

18 Jan 2013, 17:51 UTC
The Dark Side of the Moon
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The Dark Side of the Moon “I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.” Folks with a little astronomy knowledge cringe when they hear these lyrics. They will patiently explain there is no dark side of the moon. The moon turns a revolution over about 4 weeks. The far side as well as the near side see two weeks of darkness as well as two weeks of sunshine. But one side is darker. Since the moon is tide locked, the far side never sees earthlight. On the other hand, someone standing on the moon’s nearside will always see earth hovering in the same region of the sky.Viewed from the earth’s surface, both the sun and the moon subtend about half a degree. The moon’s albedo is .12, meaning it reflects about 12% of the sunlight that hits it. The moon is nearly as dark as charcoal, it only looks bright against the black void of space when our eyes have adjusted to the night’s darkness. Even the above graphic exaggerates the moon's brightness -- the sun is about 100,000 times brighter than the moon. Viewed from the moon’s surface, the sun subtends half a degree (just as when ...

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