Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

Earth and the Moon–As Described in 1771

I am always fascinated by old reference books. I have mentioned before that I have a replica edition of the first Encyclopedia Britannica, published in 1771. I often read it to add to research about something much more modern. For example, there will be a full moon on August 23rd. Which is to say, the hemisphere of the moon that faces the earth will be almost fully lighted by the sun. The Pale Golden Marble in the sky will look especially beautiful for the few nights before, during and after the Full Moon, then the lunar cycle starts again. That reminded me of one of the sections on astronomy in my 1771 Encyclopedia. 

On the surface of the moon, because it is nearer to us than any other of the celestial bodies are, we discover a nearer resemblance of our earth. For by the assistance of telescopes we observe the moon to be full of high mountains, large valleys and deep cavities. These similarities leave us no room to doubt, but that all the planets and moons in the system are designed as commodious habitations for creatures endued with capacities of knowing and adoring their beneficent Creator.

As the earth turns round its axis, the several continents, seas and islands appear to the moon’s inhabitants like so many spots of different form and brightness moving over its surface, but much fainter at some times than others, as our clouds cover them or leave them.

By these spots the Lunarians can determine the time of the earth’s diurnal (daily) motion, just as we do the motion of the sun, and perhaps they measure their time by the motion of the earth’s spots, for they cannot have a truer dial.

The writer was not correct in his assessment of habitation on the moon or other planets in our solar system. However, what interests me is that he not only believed it, he accepted it as an easy concept to believe.

We tend to think most people of that era were so earth-centric they would not have thought there could be life on other planets or that any planet would have people similar to us.  The astronomy writer for the first Encyclopedia Britannica not only thought there was life on other planets, he could picture Lunarians using Earth to track time just as we use the sun.

In a way, I’m sorry we found out the truth. I like thinking of a Lunarian couple holding all six of their hands, sweetly kissing with their antennae, gazing into each other’s eye, then looking across at the Full Blue Marble. 

August 23rd, 2010 Posted by | Life and Work | 5 comments


  1. Your description of the Lunarian couple is hilarious, Ms. Tina. Only you would read a 1771 encyclopedia, but only you could make it interesting. I wouldn’t have thought anyone then would consider people on the moon and other planets, especially with the religious overtone. Very interesting. S.

    Comment by Steve K. | August 23, 2010

  2. I saw this on your FB page. Tell your friend happy birthday for me! This is quite a way to have the sun and moon celebrate. 🙂

    Comment by Moonchild | August 23, 2010

  3. I loved this article and was really into it, then I got to the description of the Lunarian couple and laughed and laughed. I can see a One-Eyed, One Horned, Flying Purple People Eater couple! LOL LOL!! Don’t do that to me while I’m on a console! D

    Comment by denisek | August 23, 2010

  4. Tina, once again I am going to use your article as inspiration for a homily this Sunday. Very interesting! I still think there may be planets in the vastness of the universe, on which there are civilizations of one kind of another. But, for now, this one is enough to make my head spin!

    The post on “baby birds” was pertinent to issues in many churches. And, I enjoyed the one on somedays you’re a bird and some days you’re the moth. (Do we have a bird theme going here?) 🙂 Blessings on you this week. Don

    Comment by Don R. | August 25, 2010

  5. I just want to say that it takes my computer awhile to download your site because of the photos but once it finally gets there, the screen looks awesome! I’ll be looking at your site and someone comes up behind me and nearly always will comment on it. Thumbs up! J.D.

    Comment by Lunarian Larry | August 25, 2010

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