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Desert Diary
Physics/Daughter Moon


Most people are struck with awe on seeing the full Chihuahuan Desert moon rise above silhouetted mountains. Similar emotions have struck all humans, from dim past ages to the present. Yet our conception has changed radically through time. Long ago, before the vast distances involved in matters of the heavens were understood, the moon was a mysterious body—a Being—only a few miles above the mountain peaks.

Some bemoan our present-day understanding as shedding a cruel light on what should forever remain mysterious and romantic. To others, the universe is all the more wondrous in its reality. In popular thought, the moon is our satellite, but some astronomers would claim sister planet as closer to the fact. Even more realistic, though, would be a daughter and mother relationship, for the favored hypothesis today is that the moon was birthed of earth in a fiery collision with another heavenly wanderer.

If daughter she be, we could shed a tear for lost promise for that sterile world. Yet, with a parent's pride, we see only beauty.
pen and ink


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.