Thursday, March 24, 2011
In awe of the moon
I recall as a child, growing up in the country, laying on my back in the grass and just staring at the moon and the stars on a clear night.
I was amazed.
I spent many summer nights in the woods, on camping trips. My best friends and I would carry lanterns and build campfires but much of our light outside the small tents would just come from the sky above.
I didn’t realize it so much at the time, but those experiences turned out to be some of my best.
The one-night getaways in the woods didn’t cost much money – just a little gas for our trail bikes and some money for food, often just a few cans of Beanee Weenees.
It was all about having fun and enjoying God’s creation.
I later realized how blessed I was to grow up in the country.
I’m not sure enough children today get to soak in enough similar experiences. There are just too many other things occupying their time – like cell phones, texting, computers and video games.
Friday night, Andy and I went to the University of Mississippi in Oxford for the Southeastern Conference baseball opener between the Ole Miss Rebels and the Alabama Crimson Tide.
I remarked several times about the beauty of the full moon as it rose in the east. It was breaktaking.
Then I heard on the radio Saturday afternoon about how the weekend’s moon was the biggest in 20 years.
Saturday night, I kept walking outside to check out the moon. It was a bit cloudy, plus the tall pine trees around our house had it somewhat blocked.
So, Pam, Erin and I got in the vehicle and drove to the school parking lot for a better view. It was wonderful. At one point, it looked like a plane, with blinking lights, was going to run into the big, beautiful and bright moon.
We were all in awe – particularly our third grader.
According to CNN, Saturday’s full moon was a super “perigee moon.” The celestial event is far rarer than the famed blue moon, which happens once about every two-and-a-half years.
“The last full moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March of 1993,” said Geoff Chester with the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington.
Full moons look different because of the elliptical shape of the moon’s orbit. When it’s at perigee, the moon is about 31,000 miles (50,000 km) closer to Earth than when it’s at the farthest point of its orbit, also know as apogee.
“Nearby perigee moons are about 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than lesser moons that occur on the apogee side of the moon’s orbit,” the NASA website says.
Even though the moon looked really close Saturday night, it was still a good distance – some 211,600 miles (356,577 km) away.
It was one of those non-time-consuming, inexpensive experiences that Pam and I shared with our 9-year-old that created a memory to last a lifetime.
If you missed it, you will have to wait until 2029 to see it again.
My goal this summer is to enjoy God’s creation more – even if it’s just getting a blanket, laying on my back outside and gazing at the moon and the stars.
Maybe I can even work in a camping trip. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten out the tent, unfolded it and put it up.
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