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Analysis and Comment (32)

With private space missions just around the corner, we need to think about keeping important lunar sites safe. Cultsofhteshadow/Flickr

One giant leap for preservation: protecting moon landing sites

Who will preserve the first lunar landing site at Tranquility Base for future generations? It seems an odd question given the fact that this extraordinary archaeological site was created on July 21, 1969…
Eclipse at sunrise over Richmond, Virginia, USA in November 2013. Sky Noir (Bill Dickinson)/Flickr

Explainer: what is a solar eclipse?

Each month, at the time of new moon, the sun and moon are together in the daytime sky. Most of the time the moon passes by unnoticed. But at least twice a year, somewhere on Earth will see the moon pass…
Don’t forget to ask for a receipt. Niall Carson/PA

Who owns the moon?

Whether you’re into mining, energy or tourism, there are lots of reasons to explore space. Some “pioneers” even believe humanity’s survival depends on colonising celestial bodies such as the moon and Mars…
Just before totality on a total lunar eclipse. Flickr/John Johnson

Explainer: what is a lunar eclipse?

At least twice a year, Earth comes between the sun and the moon. The result is a lunar eclipse, where we see the splendid sight of Earth’s shadow falling across the moon. Lunar eclipses are wonderful to…
Our moon orbits the Earth in the same way satellites do. Flickr/Alexey Kljatov

Explainer: how do satellites orbit the Earth?

Take a look at the moon and it isn’t hard to imagine it as a planet. A 3,476 kilometres-in-diameter ball of rock, with basalt plains and mountain ranges, whose gravitational pull produces tides here on…
No longer the unreachable object, the moon became less ethereal after the ‘giant leap for mankind’. Petri Damstén/Flickr

Apollo 11 changed the way we felt about the moon, 45 years ago

Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969, after multiple Apollo lunar missions unfolded through the 1960s in front of an awestruck global audience. But many wondered…
Shooting for the exomoon. CBC11

Move over exoplanets, exomoons may harbour life too

In the Star Wars universe, everyone’s favourite furry aliens, the Ewoks, famously lived on the “forest moon of Endor”. In scientific terms, the Ewok’s home world would be referred to as an exomoon, which…
How long can you stay there depends on practice and physics. elisfanclub

Moon’s gravity alone cannot create the world’s largest tides

“Tide goes in, tide goes out…you can’t explain that.” So claimed US talkshow anchor Bill O’Reilly, in a baffling attempt to discredit atheism which became something of a YouTube sensation. I have been…
One more in the sky, this time on a grey rock. Xinhua

Prestige and one-upmanship fuel China’s lunar rover

Earlier this week China launched one of its venerable Long March rockets. That event in itself is no longer news as China has become one of the world’s busiest and most reliable providers of satellite…
Lunar heritage sites such as Tranquility Base – shown here with Buzz Aldrin in 1969 – must be protected … but a US bill is not appropriate. NASA/Neil A. Armstrong

Look, but don’t touch: US law and the protection of lunar heritage

With India and China planning lunar surface missions, privately-funded space entrepreneurs competing for the US$40 million Google Lunar X Prize and discussions around lunar mining intensifying, working…
Dark side of the moon: does it hold some power over us? PA/Anthony Devlin

We shouldn’t dismiss the moon’s power to influence

As a teenager I observed a strange phenomenon. On awakening from an unusually vivid dream, I would often find that the moon was full. And as the silvery light prevailed on subsequent nights, my nocturnal…
Brace yourself for the most super supermoon of 2013 this weekend - but how exactly does the moon appear to change size? Marianne Klock

Check out the year’s biggest and brightest moon on Sunday night

This Sunday night, June 23, at precisely 9.33pm AEST, the full moon becomes a “supermoon” – an especially bright full moon. This extra brightness occurs because the moon is closer to Earth than normal…
It’s been decades since our last foray outside Earth’s orbit - but what’s next for humankind? P.O. Arnäs

Humanity’s next giant leap: our heritage in space is our future too

The United Nations’ Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space is meeting in Vienna this week, and representatives of 74 countries will discuss, among other things, how to ensure space is maintained…
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin and his colleagues on the Apollo 11 mission inspired generations to be interested in lunar exploration. EPA/NASA

Satellite of love: our on-off relationship with the moon

Like all relationships, our association with the moon has had its ups and downs. In this series we’ve talked about the nature of the satellite and how we think it was formed - in a giant collision that…
How does the moon affect Earth’s inhabitants? shutterstock.com

With or without you: the role of the moon on life

From encouraging the first steps of life migrating from the oceans to the land, to stabilising Earth’s axial tilt against chaotic excursions, the moon is often put forth almost as a magical ingredient…
The moon has no choice but to show its good side. Nuranna

Out on the pull: why the moon always shows its face

Technically, Pink Floyd had it wrong. The space-facing side of the moon isn’t dark (except at full moon when the Earth is between the sun and the moon). Not that you’d know that, given we always see the…
What do we know about how the moon was created? EPA/Ali Ali

Crash – a-ah! Our moon has a history of violence

The more we learn about the formation and evolution of our solar system, the more we realise it was far from a sedate, gentle process. Everywhere we look we find evidence the final stages of planetary…
The moon in total lunar eclipse as seen over Sydney in 2011. AAP/Sydney Observatory

I see the moon: introducing our nearest neighbour

The moon. Our nearest neighbour. The main source of the ocean’s tides, and a beacon that drives the lives of animals across the globe. And also, to date, the only object beyond Earth on which humans have…
Three years ago we discovered water on the moon, and now we’ve worked out where it’s from. Jason Bache

Blowin' in the (solar) wind: how the moon got its water

A study published in the journal Nature Geoscience last week suggests water on the moon may have come, at least in part, from the sun. Until a few years ago the orthodox view was that the moon was bone-dry…
Things may not be as they’d previously seemed regarding the moon’s formation. NASA/JPL-Caltech

Was the moon formed by a planetary hit-and-run?

New research published in the planetary science journal Icarus, shows the moon may have been formed by a glancing collision with an “impactor” in the violent days of the early solar system. Contrary to…
What surprises are beyond the horizon for NASA’s spacecraft during its planned encounter with Pluto and its moon, Charon? NASA

New Horizons: Pluto’s latest moon sets the stage for NASA’s mission

Last week, scientists using one of the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Cameras announced the discovery of a small moon orbiting the dwarf planet Pluto - the fifth satellite discovered in orbit around…
Where there’s mineral wealth, people always follow. MGM

Lunar boom: we’ll soon be mining the moon

As history has repeatedly shown, where there are valuable minerals to be unearthed, adventurous humans will arrive in droves – even if it means battling extreme conditions and risking life and limb. So…
Another election campaign, another out-of-this-world promise. Erik S. Lesser/EPA

A US moon colony? Does Newt Gingrich’s idea have a legal basis?

In Florida last week, Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich asserted that, under his leadership, the US would establish a “permanent moon base” by 2020. What’s more, he claimed, “it will be American…
We may finally have an answer to a long-standing cosmic/ cosmetic issue. NASA

Was our two-faced moon in a small collision?

As of today, we have a cataclysmic new explanation for one of solar system astronomy’s most long-standing questions: why do the near- and far-sides of the Moon look so different? This new theory, published…
Despite centuries of study and folklore, we’re still not over the moon. ~BostonBill~

Chile volcano could turn tomorrow’s lunar eclipse red

What do Chile’s recent volcanic eruptions and tomorrow morning’s total lunar eclipse have in common? Well … Just before sunrise, Earth’s shadow will totally hide the normally-bright moon for about 100…

Columnists (4)

Get ready for a total lunar eclipse

Look up towards the east on Wednesday night (October 8) and a total lunar eclipse will be visible from across Australia. The moon will slowly move through Earth’s shadow, as the sun, Earth and moon fall…

Catching the planets and new views of Mars

Looking west after sunset on Friday September 26, the thin waxing crescent moon forms a triangle with Mercury and Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo. You can see how far Mercury has…

Supermoon … or not so super?

A beautiful full moon is set to rise this Sunday night, August 10. It will be spectacular and I encourage everyone to go outside and have a look. But the question is: will it be a supermoon? Technically…

Third time lucky: Saturn’s disappearing act

On the night of Monday August 4, mainland Australia will see Saturn disappear behind the moon. It’s the third time this year that the moon and Saturn will perfectly line up, as viewed from our part of…

Research and News (3)

Research Briefs (12)

Moon may harbour alien minerals

Minerals in moon craters may be remnants of asteroids that slammed into it and not the satellite’s innards, as long believed…

X-rays reveal inside of the moon

X-rays of the moon have shown that, unlike Earth, our rocky satellite has no active volcanos, and hasn’t for billions of…

Moon younger than previously thought

Analysis of a piece of lunar rock brought back to Earth by the 1972 Apollo 16 mission has shown that the moon may be much…

Fourth Pluto moon found

A fourth moon has been discovered in the orbit of the dwarf planet Pluto by researchers at a leading space science centre…