At the end of a quiet road in Hobart, Tazmania, I waited outside the phone booth while my friend called home thousands of miles away. The night was dark except for the moon and as I gazed up, I wondered what was missing. The moon was full and round and bright, but it looked different. There was no face. The man on the moon was gone.
“You don’t have a man on the moon!” my friend and I exclaimed, breathless and incredulous. “Oh yes, we do!” the hostel’s caretaker replied, laughing. Though we tried to describe the different moon we see in the Northern Hemisphere, his tone was placating, like those of the other Aussie guests in the hostel.
Since that trip to Australia, I’ve wondered if my friend and I imagined the different moon we described. Now many years later in South Africa, the moon was full, and it was time to find out.
My family and I scanned the sky, straining our eyes while searching for constellations and shooting stars. While others oohed and awed at meteors moving across the Milky Way, I focused on the moon.
From the deck of the lodge, I watched as the moon rose above the savannah, a yellow orange orb twinkling in the dark sky. Just as I remembered, there was no face; no eyes, no nose and no open mouth. I pointed to the moon. “There is no man on the moon,” I said to the Australians and South Africans around me. They laughed, but I knew what they didn’t. Just south of the equator, where Orion and the Southern Cross punctuate the sky, but the Big Dipper and the Northern Star are nowhere to be found, the moon looks different. In South Africa, the moon has no face. There is no man on the moon.
Unfortunately, none of us took any photos of the full moon. The photo below was taken by Tommy Taft 2 weeks before on the Wild Coast of South Africa.