The moon is an average of 235,000 miles away from the Earth. All orbits are shaped like ovals, which means that sometimes the moon is closer (as close as 221,681 miles) or further away (as far as 252,622 miles). When you hear people talk about a "supermoon", they mean that the moon is at its closest point in its orbit. How much bigger is a supermoon? Well, sorry to disappoint, but a supermoon is only about 7% larger than a normal moon. You might not even notice.
The Moon Men know how to make the moon a lot bigger than that. Our telescope can magnify the the sky up to 120X! Up this close, you will notice that the moon drifts out of the telescope's view very quickly! That's because the Earth is spinning. When this happens, it feels as if you are flying above the mountains on the moon, gently gliding as if you are in an airplane... The picture below is representative of what we can actually show you!
So when the Moon Men stop people on the street, sometimes they will tell us "I can already see the moon from here." I can understand why, from South Street, the moon might not look that interesting. Like all things in nature, we're just trying to show what you can see when you look a little closer.
Aboard the Apollo 14 Mission to the Moon, Astronaut Stu Roosa carried hundreds of seeds from trees on Earth. At one point during the mission, these seeds were exposed the air-less vacuum of space. Stu returned these seeds to Earth, and they were planted at many famous sites around the globe, to symbolize the peaceful missions of people in space.
One of these seeds was planted at Washington Square Park, in 1976 to celebrate the founding of the United States 200 years ago on that day. Today, the moon men sought out that tree.
Life is incredibly resilient and adaptable. In 2007, NASA found micro-organisms living on the outside of the International Space Station! (Do you want to see what a tardigrade looks like?)
Some scientists suggest that, if a large meteor struck the Earth, seeds and bacteria might be ejected from the planet, still intact and dormant. Perhaps, after millions of years, they would enter the atmosphere of another world and begin to live there. Is it possible that all life on Earth came from an asteroid billions of years ago? We still don't know for sure.
At this point, we had circled the park looking for the Moon Tree. Then we realized, the original moon tree had been cut down in 2011. A seed from that tree had been planted in the same spot. Life goes on. Now that we were looking for a younger tree, we closed in on our target.
There it was in the Northeast corner of the park!
Except, this wasn't a Moon Tree either! According to the Atlas Obscura, the 2011 Moon Tree was cut down in October 2018. Some passersby ask us what we're looking for. I told them there used to be something cool here! We just missed it! How I wish there was still a Moon Tree in Philadelphia.
Maybe one day, we will plant a Philadelphia tree on the moon.