This past weekend the moon made it’s closest approach to the earth. Although 122,000 miles is not what most of us would term close, nevertheless, by space standards that’s the equivalent to a few inches.

Standing on my deck, watching the moonrise over the nearby lake I was struck by how much the moon plays in our daily lives. We talk about it, study it; write about it, sing about it, we even sent men to check it out up close and personal.

Moon Landing

On July 16, 1969, Apollo 11, carrying Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, Jr, and Michael Collins lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 in Florida and landed on the moon in the Sea of Tranquility on July 19th. The following day, July 20th, Neil Armstrong became the first human being to walk on the surface of the moon, accompanied by “Buzz” Aldrin.

It was a strange feeling, for those of us who lived through that historic event, to be looking up at the moon knowing there were human beings up there wandering around picking up rocks and samples. We would never look at the moon quite the same way again.

We all remember where we were when Armstrong stepped off that ladder and made the first footprint on another world. Even more amazing is the fact that your cell phone has more computer power and more memory than the computer guidance and navigation system that took them there.

Moon Food

Also related to the space program is “moon food.” Tang, the powdered orange drink, is probably best known as the drink of choice for astronauts. The Chinese have “Mooncakes,” there are “Moonpies,” and moon drinks.

Moon Songs

Moon songs were always popular even before the moon landing. “Moon River” was the academy award winning song in 1961. Also that year, the Marcels recorded “Blue Moon.” Along came Frank Sinatra in 1964 with “Fly Me To The Moon.” In 1969, same year as the moon landing, Credence Clearwater Revival released “Bad Moon Rising.” In the 1970’s, Van Morrison released his classic jazz/pop song called “Moondance,” and singer/songwriter Cat Steven came out with “Moonshadow.” In 1973, we were treated to one-hit-wonder, King Harvest’s version of “Dancing in the Moonlight” and Pink Floyd’s masterpiece album “Dark Side of the Moon.” You could also include “Moonglow”, and “Best That You Can Do,” that contain the famous lyric, “Stuck Between the Moon and New York City.”

Other moon thoughts

Cher wins Oscar for “Moonstruck,” high school kids “moon” their friends; Native American tribes used “moons” to tell time. The moon’s gravity affects the ocean tides. Ancient civilizations were fearful of eclipses when the moon blocked out the sun. We use the moon in sayings, “Red moon at night sailors delight; red moon in morning sailor’s warning.”

“I like to think that the moon is there even if I am not looking at it,” Albert Einstein.

Yes, the moon is always there. Sometimes full, sometimes only a visible sliver, but always there. But every now and then it does something that makes the whole world pay attention. Maybe that’s why it’s such a big part of our lives and why we relate to it in so many ways. Because, like the moon, every now and then, each of us does a little something that makes us noticeable. It’s our brief chance to bask in the moonlight.

What are your memorable moon memories?

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