Water Ways: Tugged by Gravity
By Melissa Waterman
Photo courtesy NASA/nasaimages.orgManaging one’s own life is hard. Each day the needs of others barrage one like tiny meteors, pulling at one’s orbit. Your children pull you this way, your aging parents pull you that way, your friends think you should do X but your spouse thinks you should do Y. Remembering what your own course may be and sticking to it grows ever more complex as the decades pass. Now imagine if you were the moon! It’s a tough life, being the satellite of a major planet. In the first place, everyone knows you’re just a composite of matter ejected from earth eons ago and cobbled together in space. You don’t have any water, in fact, you never had any water so your mineral composition is paltry compared to your parent planet. Despite your pearly complexion, you have no light of your own, just the reflected glory of the sun (actually, none of the planets or moons in our solar system generate their own light; that is a feat reserved only for stars). And your orbit is not of your making either – Newton saw to that. You are in a perpetual pas de deux with earth and, most of the time, earth is leading. I started pondering this relationship as July’s full moon date swung into view. That familiar face, the Old Man in the moon, will beam down upon us once more, as he has done for the last 4.4 billion years. I confess that sometimes I grow tired of the visage. I am curious about what lies on the Dark Side of the moon, as Pink Floyd termed it. But, like 99.999% of living souls, I will never get to see that part of the moon.