The moon wasn’t that much closer than usual. It was just an “event.”
The moon has always been hanging there, our nearest neighbor, always showing us the same side. We didn’t know what was on the other side until the Russian’s sent a satellite up, or out, and returned photographs that showed the other side to be unremarkable.
I wondered what ancient men thought of the moon, but at some point people understood what the moon was and had a schedule of its changes.
Members of my family used the light of a full moon to plow.
Uncle Guy Phillips was a bi-vocational farmer. While raising cash crops and operating Phillips Mill, he drove a gas truck, worked as a carpenter and was, what we today call, a handyman.
A full moon gave enough light to plow at night, extending his days.
Old timers used kerosene lanterns to find their way and do chores at night, but the moon gave valuable light.
Our moon has a romantic aspect.
There are scores of songs with “moon” in the title, and perhaps hundreds with the word in the lyrics, and this is just in English.
Beyond the romantic side of our moon, it does have some some utility value.
Our tides are created by the gravitational pull of the moon. The moon drags our oceans around.
The flow and ebb of tides create a nursery in marshes for ocean life.
In the early days of trans-continental and ocean spanning air travel, Pan Am kept a navigator on the crew to “shoot the stars.”
Actually, the navigator measured the angle between the moon and another known star to establish, with lunar tables, the position of the aircraft within a few miles.
The use of tables and a sextant seems archaic today, but highly accurate navigation tables have been around since the 1700s, and some even earlier.
When Thomas Jefferson, as third president, commissioned an expedition across the continent to explore and reach the west coast, Lewis and Clark followed rivers, but their navigation and mapping was done with a sextant, a similar instrument called an “octant” and a good watch.
They used the sun and moon to create maps.
Finally, there is an old sign on the oldest building of what was Georgia’s Central State Hospital.
Every state had one — a massive psychiatric facility for people who were addicts, had emotional issues, just plain crazy or had a spouse or family member who found a friendly local judge to commit them.
Nearly every family had a member who visited the place at one time or another. My family had one who spent most of her adult life at Central State, and I’m sure that at some time she saw the sign.
That sign read: “Georgia Lunatic Asylum.”
“Lunar” from the Latin “lunaticus,” or “luna” — “Moon.”
Joe Phillips writes his “Dear me” columns for several small newspapers. He has many connections to Walker County, including his grandfather, former superintendent Waymond Morgan. He can be reached at email@example.com.