Ronald Brak

Because not everyone can be normal.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Sinister Moon - Or Possibly The Dextrous Moon, I'm not sure.

Several months ago I met a South Australian and sat in his kitchen and discussed astronomy. It wasn’t a very deep discussion. He told me that his cousin, who had gone to England, said that the moon was the opposite of what it was in Australia. I asked him to describe what he meant but unfortunately he didn’t have a clear idea of what his cousin meant and his description made no sense to me. I asked him to draw a picture and his pictures made no sense to me. Now I have travelled a fair deal and never noticed any difference in the moon that depended upon which hemisphere my eyeballs happened to be in. I was certain that there was no difference, but even after drawing my own diagrams and giving a lecture on the phases of the moon and setting up a flashlight and using an orange impaled on a pen and tied to a string so it would orbit his head, I couldn’t convince him that his cousin must be mistaken. Eventually I gave up and regarded him, despite his many other fine qualities, as being astronomically stupid.

But today I was reading an astronomy book and I realized what he was talking about, and what’s more it was a difference that I personally am not capable of perceiving. You see, he was a South Australian rather than a tropical Australian and his cousin had gone to England, which is also quite far from the tropics. Because the earth is curved the moon will usually appear quite low in the sky to South Australians and the English. But if the left side of the moon appears illuminated to the English, then the right side of the moon will appear illuminated to the South Australians as they will be facing the other way. This is something I never realized in my travels, because of a certain lack I have. You see, I can’t tell left from right.

For someone in the tropics the moon can appear quite high in the sky. If you were to watch the moon all night there while it is waxing, that is when the illuminated part is getting larger, then the lit part of the moon will appear to be on your left until it passes over your head and then you’ll turn to face it and the lit part will appear to be on your right. And when the moon is waning, that is the illuminated part is getting smaller, it will be vice versa. Or possibly I have this mixed up and it’s the other way around? It’s very hard for me to tell. Could someone who knows left from right please leave me a comment and confirm this for me?


At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Tully said...

I think you can cut yourself some slack, buddy. Who notices the phase of the moon when they're packing to go to the northern hemisphere. You'd only notice if last night it was facing right and then tonight you're over the equator and it's facing the other way. If you had been paying attention even you, with your particular problem (is that there a therapy for that?) would have been able to see. I'm sure.

At 7:06 PM, Blogger Ronald Brak said...

There is tattoo therapy which involves having the words, “left” and “right” tattooed on the appropriate hands. I considered having this, but then I realized that I often spend a lot of time with my arms crossed, which would obviously lead to me suffering from a great deal of confusion.


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