Quiz Society

Easy like Sunday morning

It’s time to look at our nearest celestial neighbour — the moon!

1. On October 22, 2008, India launched a Lunar Probe on the PSLV-XL rocket, both designed and made indigenously. Twenty-three days later, India became only the fourth country to place its flag on the moon. It even went on to discover water molecules on the surface, something that settled a debate that had been on for decades. Now ISRO is getting ready to launch its second Lunar probe next year. What is the name of both these probes, which translates to ‘moon vehicle’ in Sanskrit?

2. The moon is 3,747 km across. The sun is 375 times bigger at 1.39 million km across. The moon is currently 3,84,400 km from Earth. The sun is 390 times further at 149.6 million km. This extraordinary close coincidence is responsible for what optical illusion?

3. The moon rotates around the Earth at the exact same speed as it rotates on its own axis, so the same side of the moon is constantly facing the surface of the earth. If you were on the moon’s near side though, you could see Earth wax and wane — just as the moon does as seen from our world. But in what direction does the Earth rise and set?

4. Twilight is the soft glowing light from the sky when the sun is below the horizon, caused by the reflection of the sun’s rays from the atmosphere. At this time, the quizmaster likes to put on some Pink Floyd on his speakers and listen to the ethereal sounds float across the landscape. As beautiful as this could be, twilight and the music are both unfortunately not possible on the moon. They are impossible on the moon due to the lack of what entity that we take for granted?

5. There are two explanations for this phrase and we don’t know which one is the right one. One is that this is the second full Moon in a month. The other is that it is because of a natural phenomenon like the time in 1883 when Krakatoa exploded and there were dust particles in the atmosphere (See quiz No. 28). Whatever the reason, the point is that it is a rare phenomenon. What phrase about the moon alludes to this?

6. The Moon’s entire surface is covered with a layer of crushed and powdered rocks called regolith. On this ‘moon dust’, an astronaut’s footprint could last for millions of years, as there is no wind or water on the surface of the Moon to sweep it away. This dust is formed because of constant bombardment of the surface by something that doesn’t usually reach Earth because of our atmosphere. We do occasionally see these when they are big enough to make it all the way through. What are these miniature visitors that create the ‘moon dust’?

7. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is responsible for naming the craters and other geographical features on the moon. Typically, moon craters have been named for deceased scientists, scholars, explorers, and artists who’ve become known for their contributions to their respective fields. On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 landed in one crater, which had been named by Italian astronomers in 1651. This crater appeared dark and had a light bluish hint and it seemed to be relatively calmer than the rest of the moon. So what poetic name did they give this crater?

8. Till very recently, until the advent of digital photography, the moon was almost always depicted upside down, with the geographic South Pole on top and vice versa. Nowadays, Lunar images are constructed and stored digitally and can be displayed at any orientation. What device is responsible for this unusual problem that astronomers earlier faced?

9. In 1946, the U.S. Army Signal Corps did an experimental project where they bounced radar signals off the moon and received the reflected signals. This was the first experiment in radar astronomy and the first ever active attempt to probe another celestial body in our universe. The project was named after the mythological Roman goddess of the moon, hunting and nature. She was also responsible for the preservation of humankind through the protection of childbirth. What was the name of this project?

10. There is no dark side of the moon really. As a matter of fact, it’s all dark. This is noticeable during the first phase of the moon when the Moon and the Sun have the same ecliptic longitude. This is when you can’t see the moon at all! What is this phase called?

Answers

1. Chandrayaan 1 & 2

2. That the sun and the moon are almost of the same size

3. It doesn’t! The Earth stays put in one place in the sky relative to the moon

4. Atmosphere

5. Once in a blue moon

6. Micro-meteorites

7. The Sea of Tranquility

8. Telescopes inverted the image

9. Project Diana

10. New moon

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 6:05:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/easy-like-sunday-morning/article19895021.ece

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