Why we need to know what time it is on the moon | CNN (2024)

Why we need to know what time it is on the moon | CNN (1)

Scientists say a lunar time scale is needed before astronauts return to the moon, seen in the sky in the evening hours in Kars, Turkey, on May 18.

Editor’s note: A version of this story appeared in CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. To get it in your inbox,sign up for free here.


It’s easy to take the moon for granted as a silvery orb in the night sky, providing a soft light on most evenings. But have you ever pondered what time it is on the moon?

As multiple countries race to establish a human presence on the lunar surface, experts say it’s time to establish a time scale for Earth’s natural satellite. Otherwise, things could get confusing.

Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity decades ago changed the way we understand time, and time even passes differently depending on where a clock is sitting on Earth. Determining a lunar time scale will be even more challenging.

The new system of measurement that NASA and its international partners need to agree on will have to account for the fact that seconds tick by faster on the moon. Over time, those seconds add up.

But it will be crucial for astronautsliving in lunar habitats and scooting around in moon buggies who need to know exactly what time it is.

Defying gravity

Why we need to know what time it is on the moon | CNN (2)

NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore (left) and Suni Williams were prepared to launch Saturday, but officials scrubbed the Boeing Starliner mission moments before liftoff.

Boeing officials scrubbed the highly anticipated crewed maiden voyage of the Starliner spacecraft moments before liftoff on Saturday.

An automatic hold was triggered by the ground launch sequencer, the computer that essentially launches the rocket, a few minutes prior to the scheduled launch time of 12:25 p.m. ET, and mission teams are still assessing the cause of the issue.

It’s possible that Starliner could be ready to launch again as soon as Sunday if the issue can be easily resolved.

Veteran NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore remain safe and have exited the capsule, and will be ready for the next Starliner launch attempt when all systems are ready to go.

Look up

The sunspot clusters responsible for the May 10 solar storm, which painted the skies around the world with colorful auroras, are coming back around.

Experts predict that auroras could dance over northern and upper Midwest states on Saturday, but there is also a chance for more dazzling displays over the next week as the sunspots directly face Earth.

Meanwhile, a “planet parade” in which six planets appear to align in the sky will soon occur, with optimal viewing in North America and Europe right before sunrise on Sunday. Expect to glimpse Mars, Saturn and Jupiter, but Uranus, Mercury and Neptune likely won’t be visible to the naked eye.

And the “devil comet” will make its closest approach to Earth on Sunday as well, but it will likely only be glimpsed by those in the Southern Hemisphere with the aid of binoculars or a telescope.

We are family

Why we need to know what time it is on the moon | CNN (3)

A digital reconstruction of a Bronze Age woman's face is on display at Scotland's Perth Museum and Art Gallery.

About 4,000 years ago, a woman living in Bronze Age Scotland likely took an accidental bump to the head, causing her to die in her 30s.

Now, visitors to the Perth Museum and Art Gallery cansee a blinking, expressive digital version of her face, thanks to a recreation by Dr. Chris Rynn, a craniofacial anthropologist and forensic artist who studied her skull.

Other facial reconstructions on display at the museum include an Iron Age man who could have belonged to a group called the Picts and a young murder victim who lived in medieval Scotland.

Additionally, scientists have uncovered evidence thatancient Egyptian physicians attempted to remove a cancerous tumorfrom the skull of a young man more than 4,000 years ago.

A long time ago

The remains of 28 horses buried nearly 2,000 years ago at Villedieu-sur-Indre in central France are astounding archaeologists — especially because the horses’ cause of death is still a mystery.

The nine graves date between 100 BC and AD 100, and the horses were all carefully laid to rest in the same position at the same time.

The adult stallions may have been killed in battle during the Gallic Wars, when Julius Caesar conquered Gaul, orperhaps they were part of a ritual sacrifice, according to the researchers.

Separately, anexceptionally complete Stegosaurus fossil is going up for auction this summer, but paleontologists have concerns about where it will end up.

Fantastic creatures

Why we need to know what time it is on the moon | CNN (4)

People first spotted "salty licorice” cats with a distinctive white fur pattern in the Finnish village of Petäjävesi more than 15 years ago.

When people first began to observe cats with striking fur patterns living in the Finnish village of Petäjävesi in 2007, scientists sat up and took notice.

The cats sported ombré strands of fur that were dark at the root and faded to white. And now, researchers know what creates their unusual fur pattern: a mutation affecting a gene called KIT, which controls hair color.

The felines have been dubbed “salty licorice” cats, named after salmiak, a popular Finnish treat of black licorice speckled with white salt.


Explore these intriguing new findings:

— Archaeologists excavating Pompeii in southern Italy have uncovered children’s sketchesdepicting scenes of gladiators and hunters battling animals, suggesting that young kids watched the violent displays firsthand.

— Observations of the asteroid Dinkinesh captured by NASA’s Lucy mission reveal that a sun-driven quake may have created a baffling double-lobed moon orbiting the space rock.

— The modern co*ckroach has a surprising history that began more than 2,000 years ago, and the insect’s path to becoming a pest involved hitching rides in the lunch baskets of soldiers and travelers.

Like what you’ve read? Oh, but there’s more.Sign up hereto receive in your inbox the next edition of Wonder Theory, brought to you by CNN Space and Science writersAshley StricklandandKatie Hunt. They find wonder in planets beyond our solar system and discoveries from the ancient world.

Why we need to know what time it is on the moon | CNN (2024)
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