Friday, July 20, 2012

July 21st - A Good Day to Get Mooned

July 21st is the 202nd day of the year. Have we really been in this year for a whole 202 days? No wonder I’m so exhausted!

While out one evening watering the plants with the moon in full force above me, I wondered about that vast place called ‘space.’ Despite my exhaustion I was curious, and started digging up a few space facts. I soon realized I really shouldn’t complain about being so exhausted, comparatively speaking. July 21st is a big day in the world of space science.

First there was Jean-Félix Picard, a French astronomer to first measure the approximate size of the earth. He was born on July 21, 1620 (d. July 12, 1682),

Then there was Milan Rastislav Štefánik who was a highly regarded Hungarian politician and astronomer. He made many trips up Mount Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps, to study the Moon and Mars, and was the first to record a whole eclipse of the sun. He, too, was born on July 21, 1880 (d. May 4, 1919).

On July 21st, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon, with Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin hot on his heels. Michael Collins stayed in the ship to supervise their busy lunar adventures; securing the American Flag on the dusty surface and collecting all those rocks! Trying to get 6 – 9 hours sleep here and there during their 195-hour trip proved difficult. Who could sleep during that exciting trip?

As my research continued, my curiosity piqued with every found fact. The moon would be ‘waxing crescent’ on July 21st – but what did that mean? I excitedly called the one place that would know more - The Center of the Universe, Astronomy Interpretive Center on Observatory Hill in Victoria, BC.

But poor Elisabeth Giffin didn’t know what she was getting herself into when she answered the phone, only to have me on the other end.

I reassured Poor Elisabeth I was not a weirdo/stalker but a silly layperson who just wanted to know stuff about the moon. I don’t blame her if she wondered if I was a little ‘spaced out’ from staring at the sun too long.

She confirmed it would be waxing crescent on its right side on July 21st, and patiently agreed with my highly scientific assessment; it would be at its ‘skinniest’ on that day.

But then I had to know more:

Me (with my super-scientific voice): “So when the moon is scheduled to ‘rise’ at 8:42 am, and then ‘set’ at 9:59pm, what does that mean, exactly?”

Poor Elisabeth: “That is when you would see the moon in the day. You know how you can sometimes see it in the day?”

Me: “Oh right, yes, I have seen it in the day.”

Poor Elisabeth: “You would see it in the morning – rising at 8:42. And then you wouldn’t see it after 9:59 pm.”

Oh. That’s it? I was hoping for something a little more…dramatic.

I guess they won’t be sending me to the moon for research any time soon.

Well, Poor Elisabeth was most kind and patient. I assured her again I was not a weirdo/stalker, and I begged for more facts in order to write about the moon. It was to be, after all, the anniversary of the Apollo 11/Armstrong/Aldrin moon walkabout, and all that.

She went on to say the best time to see the moon with an amateur telescope is not when it’s full as it’s too bright, but when it’s in crescent form.

Did I mention she was patient and kind?

Poor Elisabeth also patiently and kindly mentioned that on Tuesdays through Saturdays, from July 24th onwards, the centre is open from 3:30 – 11:30, with their telescopes in full force (providing there are no clouds, of course). Their super powered telescopes can capture craters, nebulas and stars, and are able to project images of planets and moons on the walls of the observatory.

I bade Poor Elisabeth farewell, and mentally assured her I would not be coming to work at the observatory any time soon. As exciting as all the space stuff is, I just don’t think I’m up for any more research. It’s too exhausting.

Thank you, Elisabeth!

To find out more about the vast place called space, visit The Center of the Universe, Astronomy Interpretive Center on Observatory Hill in Victoria, BC.

Phone: 250-363-8262
Fax: 250-363-8290

5071 West Saanich Road
Victoria, British Columbia, V9E 2E7

For Facts about the moon, visit


  1. What a lot of interesting facts about the moon, Lisa! And all those July 21 dates. Who knew!
    I always smile every time I drive past the road signs on the highway outside Victoria indicating the way to the Centre of the Universe.

    1. Glad you liked the facts about the moon, Ros. Hope you read my updates (blush). Thank you for reading. Lisa

  2. Interesting post Lisa.

  3. I always wondered WHY is the moon up during the day.
    thanks for the post!

    1. Thanks for reading, Janelle. No wonder I'm so spacey half the time. Lisa