Young World

Who stole the moon?

Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar

Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar  

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Vaibhav is upset when he hears that the moon has been stolen, until Paati explains the science behind it.

Vaibhav came in running. “ Paati (grandmother), the moon has gone missing, and malithatha (old gardener) says that it has been stolen!” he cried, looking upset.

Paati hugged Vaibhav and said, “No one can steal the moon.”

“Then, where is the moon?” Vaibhav asked.

“It is new moon, today. So, the moon is not visible. Do you want to know what new moon means?” Patti asked.

Vaibhav nodded his head with enthusiasm.

“Come then, sit here next to me,” said Paati. “I will show you something interesting.”

Hide-and-seek

Paati brought out a globe, a ball and a bright table lamp. “The globe, as you know, is our planet Earth,” she explained. “The ball shall be the moon in our story and the table lamp will act as the sun.”

She showed Vaibhav the Earth rotating around the sun along with the moon — its satellite. “As the earth and moon rotate around the sun, once every month, one side of the moon faces the sun completely, while the other side is away from the sun. The moon, as you know, does not have light of its own, but…”

“It reflects sunlight!” cried Vaibhav with excitement.

“Right!” said Paati. “But when one side of the moon is directly in front of the sun, the other side, which is facing the Earth, is dark. Since that side does not reflect light, we do not see it. So, today, the dark side of moon is facing Earth and so we cannot see it. The moon is very much there.”

Paati, when will we be able to see a full moon again?” Vaibhav asked.

Paati slowly moved the ball that acted as the moon away from the bright light and said, “As the moon moves around the Earth, the bright side of the moon becomes visible little by little like this and it becomes fully visible on full moon day.”

Vaibhav was happy that the moon was not really missing, as he understood that the side facing the Earth was just not reflecting light.

“But Paati” said Vaibhav. “Why did malithatha, who is a good gardener, say the moon had been stolen?”

Paati laughed and said, “ Malithatha probably thought you are too young to understand so much. He does not know that you are a smart child.”

“You know, when I was young, I asked the same question to my grandmother,” Paati continued. “She told me a story about the moon being punished by a powerful saint and how it was saved by Lord Shiva. I believed the story, until I went to school. There, I studied about the rotation of the Earth and the moon around the Sun.”

“Tell me that story, Paati,” insisted Vaibhav.

“It is late,” Paati replied. “You must go to bed. I promise, I will tell you tomorrow.”

Vaibhav hugged Paati and said “I love you” before he fell asleep.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 4:28:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/kids/see-the-dark-side-of-the-moon/article7818133.ece

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