Planetarium Visit 2 – The Moon

 

Role Dialog
 Narrator Mu Lan, a Chinese astronomy teacher in a famous university, is taking some of her students on a field trip to a local planetarium.
 Ning Teacher, what is this show going to be about?
 Mu Lan It’s going to teach us some interesting facts about the moon, Ning.
Lihwa Are we going to learn about Chang E!?
Mu Lan Haha!  I don’t know if this show will talk about Chang E or not.  Ning, what can you tell me about Chang E?
Ning She’s a mythological character who lives on the moon.  She’s called the Chinese Goddess of the Moon or the Woman on the Moon.
Mu Lan And Lihwa, why does Chang E live on the moon?  That seems kind of far away and lonely, doesn’t it?
Lihwa Yes, it does.  She doesn’t live there by choice.  She swallowed a pill intended for her despotic husband.  The pill made her immortal but depriving him of it made him angry.  When she jumped out a window to escape his wrath, the pill caused her to float up to the moon, where she set up residence, so to speak.
Mu Lan Very good.  That’s one version of her story.  There are other variations but we’ll go with that one for now.  Okay, let’s go on in.  The show is about to start.
Guide Welcome, everyone!  Please find a seat.  The show will begin in about five minutes.
Narrator Mu Lan and her four students, Ning, Lihwa, Chao, and Wing, enter the planetarium and find some seats near the center of the auditorium.  There are about twenty other attendees there to see the show as well.  After everyone is seated, the room goes dark.  No one can see anything.  Suddenly the ceiling lights up with a large image of the moon.  Its detailed features are so beautiful and awe-inspiring.
Guide Good evening, folks.  Tonight we’re going to learn about the moon.  We will focus our attention on two kinds of features — seas and craters.  On this image of the moon, you can see four different seas labeled as A, B, C, and D.
 
Chao Seas?  Are there really seas of liquid water on the moon?
Guide No, no such luck.  What we call a “sea” on the moon is just a large, smooth area of land that appears darker than the surrounding, rough terrain.  These smooth areas just look like large bodies of water when viewed from the Earth.  Perhaps in the past those areas were molten rock that cooled and hardened.  Okay, who knows what a crater is?
Wing I do, I do!  A crater is a circular spot on the moon where a large rock has smashed into the moon’s surface sometime in the past.  (Points 1, 2, and 3 on the moon image.)
Guide Very good.  The impact of that large rock, or meteoroid as we would call it, flattens the middle of the crater and pushes the ground outward and upward around the impact area to form a kind of circular wall, or ridge, which basically forms what we call the crater.
Chao What happens to the, um, meteoroid?
Guide The meteoroid itself is probably deep underground in the center of the crater, assuming it wasn’t completely pulverized by the impact.
Wing Why does that crater at the bottom of the moon (labeled #3) have lines like the sun’s rays coming out from it?
 
Guide That’s a good question.  A crater often has what we call “rays” that radiate outward from the crater in all directions.  These rays are simply dirt or rock debris that has been thrown outward by the impact to land outside of and around the crater. 
Guide As this young gentleman as just indicated, these rays can be seen around the Tycho Crater near the moon’s South Pole.  The Tycho Crater shown below is about 86 kilometers in diameter and about 5 kilometers deep.  It was named after a Danish astronomer.  Here is a close-up view of the Tycho Crater, which is labeled as “3” on the moon’s image that you are all viewing. 
 
Guide In the center of the crater is a small mountain peak that is about 2 kilometers tall.  Below is a close-up of that central mountain peak.
 

Guide

In this show, we are going to teach you the names of four seas and two craters so you can go home and impress your friends.  (audience laughs) On the right side of the moon, note the three seas from top to bottom:

– the Sea of Serenity
– the Sea of Tranquility
– the Sea of Fertility (or Fecundity)

To the right of those three seas is one more sea called the Sea of Crises.

 
 Ning  What do serenity and…tran…quil..ity mean?
 Lihwa  I know!  They mean peaceful, calm, and quiet, or something like that.
 Guide Correct, young lady.  Fertility is a condition where things can grow easily.  What about “crises”?
 Chao That’s the plural of “crisis”.  Is there a crisis in that area of the moon?
 Guide Haha, no, that’s just a name that someone gave to that sea.  Maybe someone figured it was having an “identity crisis” because it was all alone over there on the right and not connected to any other seas. (audience laughs)
 Wing Is there an easy way for us to remember the names of those four seas?
 Guide Well as I mentioned, the sea off by itself seems to be in a crisis, so Sea of Crises is kind of easy to remember for that one.  The other three, if you can remember the word “STUFF”, as in S – T – F, that may help you remember the three names from top to bottom:  Serenity, Tranquility, Fertility.
Ning So, STuFF!  Sea of Serenity, Sea of…Tranquility, and Sea of…F, Fertility.  I did it!  Yay!
Guide Very good.  I’m doing my job right if you have learned the names of these seas.
Lihwa Yes, and the fourth one by itself is the Sea of Crises!
Chao And we’ve already learned that the crater at the bottom is the…Tycho… Crater.
Wing So that means you owe us one more crater, sir.
Guide Haha!  Indeed I do.  Looking back at our moon image, let’s locate the Copernicus Crater, labeled as “2” on our first image.  Copernicus was a famous astronomer.  That crater appears to be on a large island in the middle of some more seas, but those seas will be saved for a later show. Okay, so in summary, let’s see if the guest over there (Teacher Lee’s student, that’s you) can name the four seas and the two craters we have learned about tonight.
You D is _____, C is _____, A is _____, B is _____, 3 is _____, and 2 is _____.
 
Guide Before we wrap up the show tonight, I’ll introduce you to one historical fact about the moon.  On the screen, you can now see a close-up of the Sea of Tranquility.  You can just see the Sea of Crises in the upper right corner.  On July 20, 1969, American astronauts visited the moon in a spacecraft called Apollo 11.  The lunar lander, which was named “The Eagle”, descended from the orbiting Apollo 11 spacecraft and landed in the Sea of Tranquility.  So we have “been there, done that” on this part of the moon.  A red mark indicates where it landed.  If you’re old enough, do you remember where you were and what you were doing on that historic day?
   
Guide Let’s watch a short video about the moon landing.
Guide I now officially grant upon all of you the title of qualified moon experts, or “moon-a-tics”.  Or perhaps you can now call yourselves lunatics (audience laughs) Good night, folks.  I wish you safe travels going home tonight.  And don’t forget to look up and take a moment to appreciate our beautiful next-door neighbor, the moon.

 

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