Humans have reached a long way, but we can never resist the urge to look back. And this one is the ultimate look back. From 99million miles away, the Curiosity rover on Mars captured an image of the brightest object in its evening twilight sky, our own Earth and moon, on January 31, 2014. Everything on earth, everything good and bad, past and present is all inside that little dot. Kind of makes us feel small.
“A human observer with normal vision, if standing on Mars, could easily see Earth and the moon as two distinct, bright ‘evening stars,'” NASA officials said in the image description. Aside from some processing to remove the effects of cosmic rays, the Curiosity photographs are unmodified, they added.
Did you see the moon last night! Northern spring is a great time to look at the moon as you easily see the phenomena of earthshine. The bright crescent of the moon is reflected sunlight. But the dark part of the moon, the part that should be in shadow, is very bright over the next few nights. This is lit up by light reflecting from Earth back onto the moon in a phenomena known as earthshine. It is also known as the Moon’s ashen glow or as the old Moon in the new Moon’s arms.
We’ve known about this for a long time. Leonardo da Vinci sketched the crescent Moon with earthshine as part of his Codex Leicester, written between 1506 and 1510. Recently it has taken on a new level of importance in the study of global warming. The amount of earthshine is a proxy for the amount of the earth’s reflectance, known as its albedo. And this is directly related to the amount of clouds in the atmosphere. So the scientists at big bear solar observatory have an ongoing project measuring the amount of earthshine each night.
So have a look up tonight and see if you can spot earthshine.
Living in the southwestern desert makes me appreciate water more than I did previously. However this figure really brings it down to Earth (so to speak). Considering how completely, totally, and utterly we rely on water and how little there actually is, you would think we would be better job of looking after it. Clearly spilling bunch of oil in it is a bad idea, heating the atmosphere is a bad idea, interfering in an way is a bad idea. Maybe this sort of work will make the necessary impact.