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The far side of the moon was completely unknown through most of human history. It wasn’t until 1959 that it was first photographed (by the Soviet Luna 3 probe), and it wasn’t until this month that a soft landing was accomplished. The Chinese lunar lander Chang’e 4 successfully touched down on January 3rd, and since then has been sending back the first-ever surface-level pictures of the moon’s far side.
Here’s a good report to share with your homeschool students this week on what Chang’e 4 is up to, from Smithsonian magazine:
The Chinese lander touched down inside the Von Kármán crater in the moon’s southern hemisphere. Where exactly is that landing site? If you pull out your homeschool atlas (riverhouses.org/books) you can find it right there on plate 123. (Did you know your atlas has beautiful maps of the moon? It does!)
Our River Houses mascot Horace the Otter decided to investigate the far side of the moon himself, just to see what all the fuss was about.
And he successfully put his own paw-print down right next to the Von Kármán crater — sure enough, there it is!
If you want to teach a clever little lesson in the history of science, take out not just your atlas but also your homeschool dictionary (riverhouses.org/books), which has biographical entries interfiled with the main alphabet, and look up the names of the craters surrounding the Von Kármán landing site: Leibniz, Leeuwenhoek, Oppenheimer, Boyle, Oresme, Thomson — famous scientists all! (See how all our educational schemes and tools fit together here in the River Houses?) 😊
And speaking of the moon, a timely reminder: there is a total lunar eclipse coming up later this month, on the night of 20–21 January. It’s marked on our annual River Houses calendar, and you should mark it on your homeschool calendar too! We’ll have more to say about it as the date approaches.
What celestial observations have you made in your homeschool lately? 😊
❡ Watchers of the skies: Teaching your students to recognize the constellations is one of the simplest and most enduring gifts you can give them. The planisphere on the front of your River Houses star atlas (riverhouses.org/books) will let you dial up the northern hemisphere sky for any night of the year, and the descriptions and maps of each constellation will point out the highlights. Find a dark-sky spot near you this month and spend some quality homeschool time beneath the starry vault. 🌠 🔭 🌌