As long as I can remember,

You’ve been above me,

From the beginning.

A gorgeous, sapphire planet,

Catching the sunlight,

Silently spinning.

At night,

Surrounded by stars,

You glow in the sky.

On certain occasions,

My shadow slips by.

Come morning you wane,

A crescent of blue.

My heart could explode at your beauty!

My one companion...

So why did those parasites

Have to choose you?

They didn’t appear,

There was nothing to hear,

‘Til the year they called


But the noise quickly grew.

And their numbers did, too.

And you truly got caught in a fix.

And then came the span

When the rumors began:

They were planning to go to the Moon...

(And come to find out?

It was me they were talking about...)

The first whizzed by like a gnat.

It missed, and it flew on its way.

The next came down with a splat!

It hit -- and it’s still there today

Like a small, metallic zit,

Impossible to pop.

I’d hoped that they might quit,

But more began to drop!

Some flit and circle around.

Some crash and crater the ground.

Some land

And expand.

They itch and irk and annoy.

They prick and probe and prod.

They dig and dart and deploy

And search and sample.  And God!

Then . . .

Came the men!

Who photograph and explore

And core and count and cleave

And move and measure some more

And laugh and litter and leave . . .

And leave . . .

They leave tools.

They leave boots.

They leave cam’ras.

They leave flags that they’ve placed.

They leave pins.

They leave plaques.

They leave medals.

They leave bags for their waste.

They leave life-support packs

And seismic detectors,

A feather, two golf balls,

Five retroreflectors.

And, lest we forget?

They leave sixty-one piles

Of dysfunctional spacecraft!

And now, there’s a push

From this guy they call “Bush” --

A push to return here

Again . . .

This song is written from the perspective of the “Man in the Moon” -- the face that many generations have imagined seeing when they look at the shadowed, cratered surface of the near side of the Moon.  The reason that we always see the same side of the Moon is due to the Moon’s asymmetry.  Gravity’s pull keeps the more massive side of the Moon pointed at the Earth at all times.  What this means for the “Man in the Moon” is that the Earth is always right in the center of his frame of reference.  He imagines the Earth to be “above” him (at a 45° angle, as if he were reclining his head).

Since it takes 27.3 days for the Moon to make one complete rotation (relative to the Sun), the Moon experiences much longer “days” than the Earth does.  At sunrise, there is a “Quarter Earth” -- the Sun rises to the “Man in the Moon’s” left, and illuminates the left side of the Earth.  Over the next week, the Sun moves around behind the Earth.  The Earth wanes, appearing as a smaller and smaller crescent, until the Sun is directly opposite the Moon and the “Man in the Moon” sees (or doesn’t see!) a “New Earth.”  (Most of the time, the Sun is still above or below the Earth, but on occasion, the Sun is eclipsed by the Earth -- what we would view as a lunar eclipse.)

For the next week, the Sun continues from left to right across the sky, and the “Man in the Moon” sees the Earth as a waxing crescent.  After sunset, the “Man in the Moon” sees a “Gibbous Earth.”  Night will last approximately a fortnight, while the Sun is behind (and shining on the “far side” of) the Moon.  At “midnight,” the “Man in the Moon” can see a “Full Earth.”  Furthermore, if some of us on Earth are seeing a solar eclipse, the “Man in the Moon” can see his shadow on the surface of the Earth.  (It’s very easy for him to see why a solar eclipse is only visible from certain places on the Earth.  Try going to Google Images and searching for “solar eclipse from space.”)

There is no air in space.  And there is no atmosphere on the Moon.  Therefore, there is no sound -- despite what the science-fiction movies would have you believe.  So I imagined that the “Man in the Moon” would be able to “hear” radio waves.  For most of his life, the “Man in the Moon” would have merely “heard” cosmic background radiation.  However, on December 24th, 1906, Reginald Fessenden transmitted the first human voice over the radio.  (Others, most notably Guglielmo Marconi, had transmitted radio signals as much as ten years earlier, but the “Man in the Moon” would have heard these signals as mostly white noise -- the dots and dashes of Morse code signals, etc.)

The first contacts about which the “Man in the Moon” sings are, respectively, the Soviet spacecraft Luna 1 and Luna 2.  Luna 1 was intended to crash on the Moon, but due to an error in the rocket’s burntime, it missed its target and went into orbit around the Sun instead.  Luna 2, however, did not miss its target.  Neither did a great many other missions from the US and the USSR.  Plus, in the early 1990s, Japan joined the list of countries to crash a spacecraft into the surface of the Moon, and in 2006, the European Space Agency crashed a satellite into the Moon, as well.

Fascinating fact.  Do you know that our moon is the only moon that doesn’t have a name?  Think about it.  Phobos.  Io.  Titan.  Galatea.  . . .  “The Moon.”  (Note:  “Luna” doesn’t count.  “Luna” is just “Moon” in Latin . . .)

Download “Blue Moon.mp3

(Want the sheet music?)