Astronomy

Sailing to the moon

Greg and I took Finn for his nightly walk around 10pm. Well, one of his nightly walks, I should say. Walking Finnegan is sort of like how the hobbits have their meals; there’s breakfast, then second breakfast, and then elevenses, etc. There’s Finn’s nightly walk, but then there’s the bedtime walk which happens a little later, with me. And then before Jason goes to bed there’s another late night walk. (Whenever someone tells me that the trouble we’ve had housetraining him is because we don’t walk him enough, they get an earful.)

Turning the corner, Greg said, “Look up!”, and there it was (thanks to @AJThompson for taking such a perfect photo):

I stood there for a long time, imagining what it must have been like to have walked on the moon. Ever since I started sailing, my sense of adventurous distance traveled has become defined by nautical miles. How far can someone get by boat? How far into that horizon can you sail?

Looking up at the moon, I told all this to Greg. Then I said, “I wonder, if I could launch Lehua into space, and sail her up there, how many Pacific Oceans we’d have to cross to get all the way to the moon?” He looked up at the big orange craters, and said he wasn’t sure, but it would be a lot.

I tried to remember how far it was to the moon. I’d heard the distance before, but I couldn’t recall it. Turns out, it’s 238,900 miles. Wiki tells me that the greatest east-west distance of the Pacific Ocean is at about 5 degree N latitude, and that distance is 12,300 miles. That’s roughly 19 and a half Pacific Oceans.

I’ve never done a passage, by any stretch. The farthest I’ve sailed my boat is Seattle to Kingston, barely 10 miles.

map

If I could get Lehua into space, we’d be sailing a loooooong time. How long? I’m not sure, having never sailed very far. I’m still not exactly sure how to calculate an accurate sailing time. There are many factors. There’s top boat speed, but also tides, wind and weather, whales with personal vendettas, traffic in the shipping lanes, etc.

But, I’ve talked to folks who have made passages from California to Hawaii, and they’ve told me that they’re at sea about 22 days.

California to Hawaii, is what….about 2,300 miles?

maps2

Okay, so if 2,300 miles is about 22 days at sea (their boats are faster than mine, but let’s put that aside for now…), then…..okay…..divide that…carry the one…..

If we could get Lehua into space, and sail our way to the moon, assuming of course that we had decent wind (haha), we’d be at “sea” for 2,288 days.

Or, about six years.

We’re gonna need a bigger boat.

moon-earth

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