Published 7:48 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It sounds like something from a sci-fi novel. I first heard about it on talk radio. Given that I only pay attention to every fourth word, I thought that I must have misunderstood. It was only later that I confirmed that indeed, high up in the sky, the supermoon looms, larger and brighter than ever.

Astronomers indicate that this is the closest the moon has been to the earth’s atmosphere in 18 years. In addition, the weather is perfect and the sky is clear. It is the perfect setting for watching a full moon.

However, it is the Internet that seems to be driving all the talk about the supermoon. I must confess that I never have heard the term “supermoon.” By my calculations, there have been four other supermoons during my lifetime, but this is the first time I have been aware of it.

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The moon is no longer something you just gaze at with your favorite girl. The term “supermoon” yields over 2 million hits on Google. Facebook is full of comments, pictures and movies of the spectacular site. Notwithstanding all the scientific facts that are hard for the average person to understand, the moon Saturday night was 30 percent brighter and 15 percent larger than the average full moon.

I have often been mesmerized by the moon. Always finding the man in the moon, my wife taught me how to also see a rabbit in the full moon. It shines across Compass Lake when the weather is right. Some have even been known to ski at night when it was bright enough.

The moon has been a symbol of romance for many generations. Popular songs include over time include: Blue Moon, Dancing in the Moonlight, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, Harvest Moon, and the first song I ever learned to play from memory, Moon River.

I would weigh less than 50 pounds on the moon, which is a good reason to visit from my viewpoint. It is not made of my favorite food, cheese, but rather mostly from rock. There is no atmosphere on the moon, which would make human life there impossible without mechanical support.

However, humans have been visiting the moon for more than 50 years. The scientific work done in getting man on the moon resulted in some incredible inventions, including microwave ovens, halogen lights and personal computers.

Kelvar bulletproof vests, which protect our servicemen in combat are also the result of space program research. Scratch resistant glasses, GPS navigational systems, and even football helmets for the NFL are all part of our quest to reach the moon.

Even the tides of the earth are affected by the moon. When the moon is closer to the earth it pulls the water in the oceans away from the earth with its gravitational pull. In contrast, it pulls the earth away from the water on the opposite side. The result is two tides per day in most places around the world.

The moon is also rumored to cause changes in human behavior. Ask any policeman and he will tell that his job is harder during a full moon. Teachers would say the same thing about their student’s behavior.

A study in Britain determined that you are twice as likely to be bitten by a dog during a full moon.

Hospitals tend to have more babies during a full moon, with some saying the moon’s gravitational pull having something to do with that. I don’t know if that is true; I can only say that my grandchildren both made their arrival during a full moon. Even their granddaddy made his appearance the day before a full moon.

Though a full moon looks perfectly round, the moon is actually egg shaped with its pointed end facing toward earth. It is slowly moving away from the earth and in the early days of the earth the moon appeared three times larger.

The honeymoon is named after the full moon in June. As it fell between the planting and harvesting of crops this was traditionally the best month to get married.

Even one of my favorite pieces of music, The Piano Sonata No. 14 in C# minor, Op. 25, No. 2, by Ludwig van Beethoven is popularly known as the Moonlight Sonata. Written in 1801, it got its name when a music critic described the first movement as being like the moonlight shining across Lake Lucerne.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator.”

It didn’t take the Internet or Facebook to let us know that the moon is super. It seems to me that mankind has pretty much known that all along.