On May 25, 1961 President John F. Kennedy spoke to a joint session of Congress supporting his vision of space exploration. He said, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”
We have been to the Moon and back many times since the first of many flybys on January 2, 1959. After several attempts, actual first impact occurred on January 30, 1964, after President Kennedy’s assassination. Many flybys, orbits and attempts at landing were made over many years. On July 16, 1969, less than ten years after that speech, Apollo 11 made history. “The Eagle has landed” and Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the lunar surface.
Our Moon is the closer of the two lights in Earth’s sky, the Sun by day and the Moon by night. They appear to be similar in size due to an optical illusion caused by distance and perspective. Our Moon is about one quarter our size. While it is common to believe the Moon directly orbits the Earth, the actual center is about 1000 miles inside Earth’s crust. It is NOT that the Moon orbits the Earth, it is that the Moon orbits the common center of gravity, more of a symbiotic relationship.
The Moon affects both ocean and land tides and many other natural cycles. When the Moon/Earth pair first formed, the Moon was much closer to the Earth, looming huge in the sky, and would have been overwhelming to whatever ancient creatures existed. Over millions perhaps billions of years, the Moon’s orbit has enlarged to what we experience today. Over more vast spans of time the Moon will continue to pull away from the earth, appearing smaller to us and having less and less effect on the Earth and its cycles.
When we view the Sun from our Earth, it rises and sets rhythmically, daily, at times obscured by atmospheric conditions, at other times by eclipse, which was terrifying to ancient earthlings. The Moon also has periods of time when the Sun/Earth/Moon relationship allows the Earth to cast a shadow on the Moon and the available light darkens, again traumatic for ancient earthlings. The Moon shifts its shape constantly, from the invisible stage at one point it its cycle to the full circle of what we call Full Moon, fluctuating but rhythmically.