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Lessons from Teacher Ciruela
The dark side of the Moon

What's the way myths are born? For instance, the legend that tells one face of the Moon is permanently in shadows... might it come from the Pink Floyd's popular album title The Dark Side of the Moon? Would Roger Waters believe in that?

Myths are mostly harmless. But when it comes to scientific myths then the wrong hidden idea hinders the rational thought and restrains the free flow of questions and answers that help us build the concept of a consistent universe. That's why Science teachers should give students enough room to talk about this kind of myths. It's very important to have them aware of the celestial mechanics of the planetary system as the most simple and powerful way to explain some omnipresent natural phenomena as seasons, moon phases, and so on.

By the way, the Moon does not have a dark side to the Sun, that is, a face that never sees any light from it. Contrary to popular belief, what the Moon actually has is a hidden side to the Earth. Thus, what we can always observe is just only one face... and that's because the speed at which the Moon rotates on its own axis is the same as it takes to orbit the Earth.

Even though this fact appears to be such plain and simple (in spite of the intrinsic idea which is not as simple to be explained), it gets rather hard when it comes to check how fully most of the students have got it. You can then start by asking leading questions which should follow a logical flow, e.g. how long the rotational period of the Moon would be if it actually had a dark side. The right answer: one year, that is, 365 days, is not expected to be easily found out. Anyway, whatever response you get will be a good source of teaching information to dig in.

Also: let them listen to the album... don't be so mean.

The Dark Side of the Moon album title is a metaphor for mental illness. Perhaps The Dark Side of Lunatics would have been a more straightforward one, though the band would never have expected their words to be taken so literally by millions of earthlings.
Translated by Virginia Merchan. Some Rights Reserved. Not to be reproduced or quoted without citing the source and the author. Last updated: Jan-13. Buenos Aires, Argentina.