Born in 1564, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei is credited as having revolutionized mankind’s early understanding of our solar system.
Using “spyglass” technology, initially made to make faraway objects seem closer, Galileo was able to enhance the invention to initiate his own ventures in astronomy. He went on to become the very first person to record observations of the sky using an early version of the telescope in 1609.
Before he looked to the skies, many people assumed that the Moon was a smooth sphere.
However, Galileo soon discovered that the Moon was anything but smooth. He noted the presence of pits, mountains, and a host of other features very much like here on Earth.
His continued pursuit of knowledge led him to believe that it was the Sun – not the Earth – that was the center of the Universe.
The Moon’s appearance changes drastically over the course of every month. It transitions from a crescent to a half-disk, to a full-disk, and the cycle repeats.
So, what really causes these Moon phases?
Well, an understanding of Galileo’s heliocentric theory of the solar system is of the essence.
On its own, the Moon doesn’t actually produce any light. The Moon phases are brought about as a result of the Sun’s light shining on the lunar surface. On Earth, we’re able to perceive those reflections as Moon phases.
From studies done on the relative positions of the Sun, Moon, and Earth, we now know that half of the Moon’s surface is always illuminated by sunlight while the rest remains shadowed. The only time when this is not the case is when there’s a lunar eclipse and the Moon falls into Earth’s shadow.
Human nature has long been linked to the phases of the Moon.
The term “lunatic” is believed to have been coined to explain to the odd behavior or mental illness said to be triggered by changing phases of the Moon.
In another instance, farmers also believed:
Historically, the Babylonians developed some of the earliest calendars in the world while living in ancient Middle East some 2,500 years ago. Notably, the calendar was based on phases of the Moon.
Today, Moon phases continue to determine many religious observations.
Islamic and Hebrew holidays are closely linked to dates in lunar months. The Christians also rely on the Moon phase to determine Easter, usually on the first Sunday after the first Full Moon.
Several millennia later, mankind’s obsession with the Moon and its phases still persists.
While we’re more informed about what causes Moon phases than ever before, there’s still much to discover about our closest lunar neighbor.
At AstroReality, we’ve developed a neat tech solution that aims to make life easier for budding astronomers around the world. If you’d love to know what the current Moon phase is from wherever you are around the world, then, you can always count on the power of augmented technology to give you the low down.
With our Moon Mug AR model, you can swiftly know about the current Moon phase by simply scanning the bottom of the mug.
Here’s to a making more discoveries as you sip on that espresso!