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Howling at the moon


Credit: AP photo

Okay, so now is you're chance to see a lunar eclipse. My colleague, Frank Roylance, has a story about it here.

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And if you're out howling at the moon tonight, here's some things to think about: The moon was formed at about the time the Earth was gelling into a planet 4.5 billion years ago. The scientific consensus is that as debris was floating around the solar system, something hit the  Earth blowing out a hole of rocky material that went into orbit around the Earth and aggregated into the moon.

The best evidence for this decades-old theory is that moon soils have the same sort of chemical content, oxygen isotopes, as planet Earth, while Mars and the other planets do not. There's good information on that here.

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A more intriguing question may be why do wolves howl at the moon.

Scientists say that in fact  they don't. But I prefer to believe that they do. There's something romantic about it. Besides that there was a wolf-like dog that lived down the street from me when I was a kid. It was part Alaskan Huskie and, to me it seemed, part wolf. And in my memory, it used sit in its backyard and howl at the moon all the time. I can hear it's howl to this day. It was one of the most haunting sounds in the world.

The reason wolves howl at all remains a mystery (Mainly because you can't ask them). But the common theory is that it's so they can identify each other.

They may seem to howl more on moonlit nights because the light's better then and they're out foraging around more. Or maybe we're more active on moonlit nights (That's what some police believe.) So maybe we're just hearing them more because we're out and about. There's more on that here.

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