21 March 2011

Moonstruck

We were treated to a cool view of the moon last night. There were a few clouds about, but in the areas where the skies are clear, the stars shone through behind a majestic blue. The full moon was especially captivating. I remembered I have just installed Google Sky Maps on my Android phone and I asked my son Jo-Lo if he wanted to do a little stargazing. To which he excitedly agreed.

And so there we were under the cool night sky, trying to spot constellations through the phone. Watching this sky reminded me of how vast our universe is. And we, ever the curious beings, have always tried to search for answers to the whys, the hows, the whens of everything around us.

Then I remembered that at this very weekend, the moon will be closest to the earth in 18 years and it will be 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter. A Supermoon, that’s what it’s called. And it’s happening tonight.

However, aside from being an interesting celestial phenomenon, there is also a superstitious side to it. The moon, which affects our ocean’s tides, can apparently bring about natural disasters in the order of earthquake and tsunamis when it is closest to Earth. Such dire predictions coming in the wake of recent tragic events can make our imaginations run wild! While many – especially scientists – dismiss such allegation as fiction, others take the safe approach of staying in the comfort of their own homes. Just in case the big one strikes…

Tonight is a case for pondering. We humans have advanced so much these past years. We have the power to flatten mountains, build skyscrapers, see and talk with each other halfway across the world, clone plants and animals. But every so often something happens that makes us realize that we are at the mercy of the elements, no matter what clever inventions we can come up with. Just look at the sky tonight and gaze at the Supermoon. Are we looking at the very thing that will be the cause of another catastrophe? Or believe in what the men of science have to say? Science, or superstition? With so many uncertainties in this world, where would you put your trust in?

(This article also appeared in the Definitely Filipino blog)
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