A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


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Mystery of the dark side of the moon solved after 55 years

Filed under: A Curiosity for a Friday

The far side (left) does not look like the near side (right) there are no maria or “seas” on the far side.

For 55 years some people have wondered why the near and far side of the moon look so different. (I can’t say it had occurred to me, but the answer is very cool anyway.) The far side of the moon has none of the dark flatter pans or seas called maria – instead it is covered from top to bottom with craters.

What I find even more amazing is that the Earth and Moon have been locked in an orbital dance where the same side of the moon always faces the Earth, round and round, and it goes on for billions of years. (Yes, and how do they know, I also wonder, but there is an answer below.) In any case, here’s a new theory that might explain the difference between the near and far sides. It’s very neat.

The Earth and Moon have a rather extraordinary relationship. Not long ago we heard how the gravitational tidal forces between them are so strong it causes tidal bulges in the rock [...]

The Moons’ influence on the atmosphere over Australia

We know the moon changes our tides, but can it also change our rainfall? Could the moon also cause tides in the atmosphere? Some researchers have found such periodic movements in air above 3000m. Some have suggested that the moon drives the cyclical shifts in the Length of Day (LOD) that occur on a fortnightly and seasonal basis.

Ian Wilson has been scouring the data quietly for years, following these ideas, and has found a link between lunar cycles and the sub tropical high pressure ridge that occurs in summer over the East Coast of Australia. He noticed there were 9.4 and 3.8 year cycles which match periods in spring tidal cycles. What matters is how close the full moon is to perhelion (the  closest point Earth comes to the Sun).  It’s yet another piece of the puzzle that the IPCC favoured models ignore.

The lunar forces are, not surprisingly, smaller than the solar one, and as the abstract points out: “it is not so much in what years do the lunar tides reach their maximum strength, but whether or not there are peaks in the strength of the lunar tides that re-occur at the same time within the annual [...]