There’s more to the moon than that round object in the sky. You can hang it if you see someone doing something superlative. Of course, if someone does something the opposite you can moon him or them if your object of scorn is plural. You can give it to your object of intense desire or passion. You can go over it if you’re very happy or make a gerund of it when you’re blue or feeling dreamy. It too can be blue if it’s full more than once a month or if things are generally lousy. If you’re not careful it can strike you. It can make you mad. It can be super. There’s been more than one man on it, but never a woman.
Beethoven and Debussy made much of it, no matter that its light is reflected from a dead rock. Verdi made a baritone of it. You can sing to it or about it (Milanov Song to the Moon), the list is longer than π. It can be blue, golden, yellow, amber, purple, silver, glow, paper, a devil, hang over Miami or Bourbon Street. It can rock, shine, or walk. You can shoot it, stand on it, walk on it howl at it, dance with it, and harvest it. If you’re very clever you can hypnotize it.
But nobody has more to work with than do astronomers. While we have only one moon, and Mercury and Venus have none, the rest of the solar system is close to saturated with them. Mars has two, Jupiter 67, Saturn 62, Uranus 27, Neptune 14, Pluto 5, with 5 more orbiting the remaining Dwarves of our system.
The moons of Uranus show that astronomers have a whimsical and poetical side. All are named after characters by two English authors. Here are a few: Umbriel, Belinda, Sycorax, Setebos, Perdita, and Cupid. With all the stuff that’s out there in the vasty sky, giving some insignificant rocks a name makes us feel a little less so.
Our own moon without a name is putting on a big show right now. There was a supermoon on Dec 3. There will be two more on Jan 1 and 31. The latter is, by definition, a blue moon. The January 31 moon will be a trifecta as a total lunar eclipse will occur on that date – a super blue blood moon.
Happy New Year