The Moon is Upside Down!

Today the sun crosses the celestial equator meaning IT’S THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING! At least in Chicago this is the case.  For my friends south of the equator, today is the first day of fall. While I get excited for the upcoming days of flowers and sunshine, those in Argentina are getting ready for days that are just a bit shorter and have that crisp air that only seems to come in autumn. I have suffered through another Chicago winter and typically spring is my favorite time of year, but for some reason today I am thinking about my time in Argentina and one particularly fantastic and bewildering thing I saw while there.

When I traveled to Buenos Aires during their summer, one of the most astonishing things I saw was up in the sky. My husband and I were at the Velez Sarsfield stadium watching an Argentine football match between Velez and Caracas. He was chatting it up with our friend, Pablo, and I was staring up at the sky in amazement. I expected to see stars I had never seen, but I never knew that, when in the Southern Hemisphere, the moon appears to be upside down.

I had more fun at this soccer game watching the sky and the people around me than actually watching the match (typical for an American?). Endlessly curious as I am, I pulled out a piece of paper to work this out. To this day, I am certain my husband doesn’t understand why this fascinated me so much.

A rough drawing explaining why the moon appears to be upside down - simply viewing the sky from different angles.

View of the moon from the Northern Hemisphere

Here was my conclusion: when you travel from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere, you are technically standing upside down from those in your originating city. This is why the Man in the Moon I had gazed at so many times before didn’t seem to be there.

A view of the moon from the southern hemisphere

The moon also appears to MOVE differently. In the North, all heavenly bodies move from left to right across the sky, however in the Southern Hemisphere, just the opposite is true. With the Argentine perspective, the moon, sun and stars travel from right to left. Even the shadow of a sundial will move counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere (opposite of that in the North).

This unexpected new view of the heavens above was a highlight of my time in Argentina. Whenever and wherever you travel, look up. You never know what you might discover.

“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”

– Vincent van Gogh

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2 responses to “The Moon is Upside Down!

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