Why study the Moon? PDF Print E-mail

The Moon has been a very important object along Mankind’s history.

In antiquity it was one of the seven wanderers that were known to move their position in the sky relative to background stars. It was used to make the first definitions of the length of the months, and it even affects the life of people that live in certain ocean coastlines due to the tides.

It was also very important on the victory of the heliocentric system. Aristotle and Ptolemy defended that the imperfection only existed in the sublunary world and this was a philosophical argument they presented for their geocentric system.

The idea was that the celestial bodies were all crystalline spheres that orbited Earth in motions that could be explained as a composition of movements done obeying to most perfect geometrical figure that they thought was the circle. When 400 years ago Galileo Galilei discovered the Moon’s mountains and craters and showed everybody that the Moon wasn’t a perfect sphere this was a deep strike on their philosophical arguments.

The Moon is one of most interesting objects for school observations because you can see interesting things even if you observe it in naked eye observations.

Moon phase drawings by Galileo Galilei

The Moon is the only celestial object (except our Sun) that can be seen in the daylight (however there have been comets in the past that were bright and large enough to also be seen in the daylight - and Venus can also be visible if you know exactly where to look). Though allows teachers to prepare telescopic observations of the Moon even in daytime, the features are better seen in night-time observations.

The observation of the Moon, its phases, its motion against stellar background and the analysis of its many features allow even complex studies that can help students to understand the Earth-Sun-Moon system and also planetary motions.

So it’s easy to work with and can help to learn a lot!