Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ten Facts About the Moon to Share With Your Kids

With PigPen Theatre Co.'s The Old Man and The Old Moon opening our 2014-15 season, we can't help but gaze skyward each night and think about what it might be like to be the eponymous man in the show. The Old Man's job, in the theatrical tall tale, is to tend to the leaky moon, refilling it with light.

Even if we're not professional moon caretakers, there are lots of ways that the moon affects our everyday lives. Before you come to see the show (at the New Vic from September 26 through October 13), have a little fun with your family and talk about these ten did-you-know facts!

1. The ocean's tides are largely caused by the gravitational pulls of the moon. Waters bulge depending on where the moon is in its rotation around the Earth, causing tides to swell and fall. (Moon Connection)

2. From the Earth, we can only ever see one side of the moon. Because of how the moon revolves around the Earth and how it rotates, the same face of the moon is always facing our planet. That's why you'll sometimes hear people talk about "the dark side of the moon."

3. In East Asian folklore, there are stories about a rabbit that lives on the moon. That's because, for some, the patterns on the moon's surface appear to take the form of a rabbit. Some Native American and Mesoamerican cultures have similar myths about the rabbit on the moon. Take a look and see if you can see the shape!
(Source: WP Clip Art)

4. In many cultures, the full moon is thought to cause erratic behavior or even "intermittent insanity." That's why mythical creatures like werewolves are often associated with phases of the moon. It's also where the term "lunatic" comes from. "Luna" means "moon" in Latin. (Source)

5. The moon has volcanoes! Although, scientists say they "have not erupted for millions of years." Many of the craters that we can see on the surface of the moon, however, were actually caused by the moon being struck by other celestial bodies like asteroids and comets. (Scholastic)

6. With no atmosphere, the moon's surface temperature varies much more severely than Earth's. It can be as hot as 253 degrees Fahrenheit and as cold as -387 degrees Fahrenheit! The lack of atmosphere also means you can't hear sound on the moon and the sky always appears black. (NASA, Space Facts)

7. Only twelve people have ever walked on the moon, and all of them were American males between the years 1969 and 1972. The first men to walk on the moon were part of the Apollo 11 mission-- can you name some of the famous astronauts on this mission? (Space Facts)

8. Our weight on the Earth is connected to our planet's gravitational force on our bodies, and gravitational force is unique to each planet, depending on its size. So, if we were to walk on another planet or celestial body and weigh ourselves, we would see a very different number on the scale. Use this online tool to see how much you would weigh if you were standing on the surface of the moon. (Moon Connection)

9. The light we see emanating from the moon is actually sunlight being reflected off of the moon's surface. It's not actually glowing cheese, nor is it tended to by an old man!

10. While The Old Man and The Old Moon explains the varying levels of light in the moon with their "leaky light" fable, what we're actually observing on Earth are the phases of the moon. Phases are caused by the shadow of the Earth being cast onto the sunlit portion of the moon. See if you can tell what phase the moon is in tonight! (Moon Connection)

(Source: Moon Facts)

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