Supermoon reflections

It’s not often that someone goes and moves a celestial body closer to us so we can see it clearer. The Grauniad has a far better series of supermoon pictures along with why it’s a supermoon, ‘cos decent photography is about the context and telling a story.

However, although the tail of storm Bertha had been giving the region some stick it all cleared for the moon. I don’t know how your astronomer types get to see anything through a telescope, because when I stuck my birdwatching telescope at it it was far too bright to see much. However, it was easy to take a photo[ref]There was a surprisinglylarge amount of  light – ISO200, f/8, 1/250s[/ref]and I was surprised to see all the gnarly bits on the bottom. Taken a hell of a hammering, that has


And I’d never noticed that in many decades of looking up at the moon. Obviously if you want a decent picture of the Moon you head over to NASA, cos they have better gear, my photo shows I’m not totally over the chimping of a tourist with their crappy smartphone photo – but hell, it’s my picture, I pressed the button. Kudos to NASA for a superior take, nevertheless 🙂

NASA have better gear and get to spin it round a bit
NASA have better gear and get to spin it round a bit

While over at NASA I took a gander at their Apollo mission pages, I have fond memories of watching the July 1969 landing at school (we didn’t have a TV at home) at about lunchtime – they had dragged the great big set into the assembly hall. Either it’s me or we just don’t have big stuff like that with the widespread buzz of some Really Interesting Stuff Going Down now. Then I looked at the timeline, and thought of Jacob ERE

How far are we?
That depends on your perspective. If you take the view from 400000km, humans are no longer going to the moon and have not been doing so for 40 years. From an energy perspective, the available energy/capita ratio peaked 30 years ago. Real wages have been declining for a good 30 years as well (a connection?)

and of course Tim Morgan on the same string in a different key. Basically the 1973 oil crisis pole-axed the world I’d read about in far too much crappy science-fiction where everything was going to get better and more exciting because people were going to boldly go into an ever-expanding space exploration.

Carter and his solar panels
Carter and his solar panels

Then the price of oil went up, Jimmy Carter stuck solar panels on the roof of the White House, told people to ease off the gas[ref]the story of what happened to those panels is interesting, you can read it courtesy of the Scientific American[/ref] and the American people went bugger this for a game of tin soldiers. They considered that defeatist cheese-eating surrender-monkey cobblers and elected a B movie actor who told a much more cheerful story, which sort of stuck for the next 30 years, but I notice that humanity is still too skint to go to the moon. We last put boots on the ground in December 1972.

Strange to think back at those fast and furious years of innovation and exciting stuff in my primary school years. It’s not like we haven’t made things a lot better and progress has arrested – if things had stayed like 1972 most of Britain wouldn’t have central heating, never mind a notable section being able to live like kings. Somewhere, however, I wonder whether that last footprint in 1972 wasn’t the day some of the vision died in the West, the first time we came up against insurmountable limits to growth… You can coast a long way from the peak with the engines out, and as ERE said, it took many years for Rome to fall. Maybe we are partying in the endgame…

6 thoughts on “Supermoon reflections”

  1. The moon. I love it. I was 14 and stayed up to watch the landing on our cheap B+W TV – with my auntie as parents didn’t care. Moon shadows are fun, but who goes out to play in the moonlight now? – it’s a long time since Cat Stevens. In my teens I bought the “everything is going to get better with Science” story. Remember how in Star Trek they did’t own much stuff as they were out there having adventures. Then Marketing took over our lives. Funny how things turned out.


  2. Awww – c’mon guys. Maybe it was that I was still in primary school at the time – it was exciting, and fun. And I do wonder about Jacob’s peak oil point….

    Star Trek with malls and Mickey D’s really doesn’t bear thinking about. Maybe Branson will do it on Luna 1 to give his space tourists a destination 😉


  3. Come for the low-gravity hijinks, stay for the overly American amenities! (McDonald’s on the moon, Starbucks amongst the stars. Ooh, KFC in the Keuper Belt! No? Too much?) What a depressing yet seemingly inevitable vision of the future.

    Then again, with the privatisation of space comes a likely massive injection of materials and, hopefully, somehow, energy. If nothing else, some of those materials can probably be burnt.

    Yes, I still believe in that future. The worries over unsustainable growth are predicated on the assumption that we’re in a closed system here on Earth, and that innovation in energy can’t keep up with innovation elsewhere. Hopefully the next decade will put paid to both of those.


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