Why Does the Moon Fascinate Us?

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The moon has had an eternal presence in all facets of human culture for thousands of years, begging the question: why does the moon fascinate us?

In the passenger seat of my dad’s car on the way to the airport, I stared out the window at the moon in the pale blue sky. My gaze was careful so as not to disturb it, as if I were studying a small insect on a leaf that might scurry away if I move too quick. Now and then, when I least expect it, the moon fascinates me. When I remind myself what I’m looking at — a gigantic rock orbiting the Earth, spotted with canyons from eons of cosmic collisions — I have trouble believing it.

The moon represents a delicate balance in nature. It not only a rock, but a metaphor, a simile, and a poem. It was our first daring expedition beyond our planet, and though we haven’t been back in decades, a select few men setting foot on its surface fundamentally changed how we saw ourselves, both figuratively and literally. This short film, featured by National Geographic and The Atlantic upon release in 2014, explores our connection with the moon, and why it persists in fascinating us.

There’s a certain closeness and kinship in the distance of the moon. We share a fundamental partnership, like an electron and a hydrogen atom—seemingly intertwined by definition. For what would our world be without the moon in our skies? To wax and wane, to trim the tides, to mark our calendars and inspire our art, to light our nights in anchor our place in space.

Further Reading

New York Times editorial “The Human Moon”, November 2009
Much of the research and inspiration for this film was in reading “Moon: A Brief History” by Bernd Brunner
More on the history of the moon
First images ever taken of the moon orbiting the Earth
JFK’s Memorandum that led directly to the Apollo program.
A history of the moon and our culture