Class Warfare Blog

July 30, 2016

An Intellectual Train Wreck

Filed under: Science — Steve Ruis @ 11:02 am
Tags: , , , ,

I was watching an episode of Ancient Aliens last night (I know, I know … but I can’t stop watching, there is the alluring fascination of watching a scientific train wreck). This episode (Space Station Moon, Season 11, Episode 11) addressed the question of whether the moon might actually be hollow and be a space station inhabited by … wait for it … aliens, who are stationed there to keep a tab on us. I guess theists aren’t the only ones who think we are special (one of the universe’s most watched species!).

In any case, they began with some basic facts about the moon, delivered by Rick Stroud (great name, could have been a private investigator) who wrote a book called “The Book of the Moon.” So far so good. The first words about the moon uttered by Mr. Stroud were that the moon “glows” because of reflected sunlight, it not being hot enough to create its own light. This is good, solid, basic information. But then … then Mr. Stroud says this:

The reason that the moon has phases is because the Earth blocks the light of the Sun. As the Moon moves around the earth, it gets incrementally a little bit more, a little bit more of the Sun’s light.”

WTF? Bullshit Alert! Bullshit Alert! (That’s bullshite for you Brits.)

Apparently the good author got a little mixed up and thought he was describing a lunar eclipse. If his description were valid, we would have a lunar eclipse every month and anyone who has ever seen a lunar eclipse has noted that it begins and ends in just a few hours. So, by this description, all of the phases of the moon would be seen occurring in just a couple of hours and the moon would be full for the entire rest of the month!

The reason this description is patent bullshit, is for it to be true, then the Moon’s orbit would have to be in the same plane as that of the Earth’s around the Sun. It is not, it is tilted by about five degrees (5°), which is why we do not have a lunar eclipse every month.

But even if the orbits were co-planar, we would still see the phases of the moon (full moon, waning moons, waxing moons, new moon, etc.) because of the real reason for the phases of the moon which is:

The moon travels around the Earth and the side of the moon facing the sun receives its illumination and is “lit up.” When the moon is between the sun and Earth, the lit up side faces away from us and the moon is dark from our vantage point ( a new moon). Then the moon moves on and about two weeks later it is on the far side of the Earth (away from the sun) and because its orbit is tilted a bit, the side facing the sun is still being lit (it is not in Earth’s shadow) and we can see it fully lit from the side of Earth not being lit, that is during our night time (a fully lit moon, or full moon). Half way between these two positions (one week to either side) the side of the moon facing the sun is at a right angle to us and we see the Moon as being half lit. (As a side note, because the Moon rotates on its axis in the same period of time it revolves around the Earth, the same side of the moon is always lit and the dark side of the moon is never seen.)

So, the producers of this episode of Ancient Aliens thought that Mr. Stroud was the perfect source for this basic information as he has “written” the book “The Book of the Moon,” but if they had just done a little research they would have found out that Mr. Rick Stroud is not an astronomer, but is a television director. (Hey, somebody had to cash in on the book following the documentary, why not the director?)

Or if one of the producers were to have done a little fact-checking by looking up “phases of the moon” on Wikipedia, or … oh, what the Hell … the aliens did it, the aliens did it. Now, I feel better now that I know what really happened.

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