Post # 853     HELIOCENTRICA: “Moon Shadows”

In our American lexicon, the mystical word, “Shadow,” has a substantial and ubiquitous, range of expressive meaning, both literal and colloquial. However, in this writing, we will examine the phenomenon in its most common (visual) context i.e., a dark area created where an opaque subject blocks light from it’s source.  In the interest of clarity, the purport of this writing is the expression of our personal, nuanced perception of the stark contrast between Solar and Lunar shadows, as cast by said inhabitants of our solar community.

On a hot, sunny day, a beachgoer may seek temporary relief from the heat and the injurious effects of excessive exposure to the sun’s light rays, by his temporary relocation to a shady spot; perhaps under a leafy tree, behind the shady side of a building or commercial billboard. The sunlight and heat are thereby, blocked and comfortably, replaced by a cooler shade. One may, permissibly, speak of the shade (functionally and aesthetically), as sun shadow, by reference to our definitional first paragraph; however, In this specific instance, there would be little motivation to seek out any discernable aesthetic or remarkable features, respecting the temporary, shady environment since the sole, successfully, accomplished, purpose was the acquisition of shelter.

Let us imagine an unremarkable Sunday evening at about 9:30 P.M., on which a suburban resident drives to a neighbor’s residence to pick up his young daughter, Rachel, following a weekend sleepover with her friend Samantha. It is a cold, dark evening in December, lit only by a small crescent moon. Accordingly, the driver is reliant upon and grateful for his car’s illuminating and efficient headlights. Little or no focused thought, is afforded to the subtle, ambient effect of the extant weak moonshine on the surrounding, hilly and treed, environment.

Empirical experience has taught us, that any meaningful consideration of the characteristics of Moon shadows, as contrasted with those produced by the Sun, is best accomplished in the venue of the countryside. It is there, that such phenomena can be aesthetically, perceived, in nature’s topographic and arboreal setting and without the distracting optical distortions, blocked views and other phenomena, attributable to the metropolis.

In illustration of our thematic purposes, one might elect a late, sunny afternoon in the countryside, at a time when the sun is starting its steady decline from its zenith. We begin to observe the gradual devolution of its incandescence behind sharp rock outcrops, into very dark, well- defined, wells of apparent, deep blackness. These then, seem to reemerge, or spill over, lake like, at the apex of the perimeter of each black well, slowly plodding, or rapidly flooding onward to the flat surface of the level ground. The boundaries of these darkened areas are distinct and visibly, definable, as if described by a drafter of maps. Inside, the shadow wells of dark matter are partly, visible with the aid of a lamp or flashlight. Such sun shadow, itself, appears opaque, and its ebony darkness may, with the willing assistance of a creative imagination, be mistakenly perceived, as solid, dense and impenetrable.

 In obvious, visual contrast, the distinctively subtle, and seemingly, nonassertive, ombre, or shadow, of the Moon, ( subtle, perhaps, because its transmission is merely, reflective, as opposed to self-generative) is pale, amorphous and ethereal in its transmission of gray (sometimes, light blue) amorphous shadows, and thus, conducive in its gothic and, mysterious essence to use in the fine arts, descriptive literature, poetry and artistic photography. Its somewhat, wispy, ethereal and insubstantial, presence ambience renders it suitable for mystical flights of imagination, to superstitious ideation, to creative poetry and to man’s atavistic propensity for gothic imagination. Many of the classic English crime movies are presented  for i effect, in the mysterious environment of fog, a close, but far denser relative of moon shadows.   

Lacking the contrasting, appearance of dark, universal density in appearance of sun shadow, moon shadow routinely, appears, gray and vague in substance and potentially, penetrable, (if one has the courage.) Moon shadow borders, are irregular and undefined, in contrast to the areas of precisely demarked and easily identifiable, dark sun shadow; and are often, depending upon the object of their projection, not easily, discernable and usually appear somewhat, in motion. Moreover, unlike the cooling utility of the sun shadow, the lunar shadow is projected to Planet Earth, maintaining the temperature of the immediately, surrounding environment.


On the “Pollyannaish,” assumption of a nature-based, analogous phenomenon of an existent (planetary) civic responsibility, is it at all possible that, as residential and dutiful, members of the community of the Solar System of Planets, the dynamic, (heliocentric) recycle of the  vital energy (light) of the sun (producer of the sun shadow), together with the responsible and compliant, offices of its rocky satellite, the moon, (moon shadow),is an apt demonstration to Humankind, of the existential (and “universal”) duty to, eternally, recycle available sources of energy.


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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