Is the Moon Fed Up With Us?

Photo: Laurent Emmanuel/AFP via Getty Images

Maybe you already knew this, but today I learned that the moon is actively inching away from us, year by year. She’s fed up, she’s done, she’s had her fill of whatever it is we’re doing here, and she just doesn’t really want to be around anymore.

I discovered this troubling but understandable fact from a New York Times article describing how scientists are having some difficulty measuring just how quickly the moon is drifting away. That’s because the five light-reflecting “retroreflector” panels that they typically use to measure the speed at which she is absconding are getting old. The panels were left on the moon’s surface over decades by astronauts; when laser beams are pointed at them from Earth, how quickly they reflect light back to us helps scientists determine the distance between the Moon — who maybe hates us? — and our planet over time. But the retroreflectors are now only about one-tenth as efficient as they used to be, in part because they are covered in a layer of lunar dust.

Anyway, the retroreflectors are how we know that the moon is moving away from us at a rate of about an inch and a half a year. In our defense, she has been doing this for billions of years now, and the rate of the inching-away has fluctuated between 1.9 and .005 inches annually. But still, you can’t really blame her for continuing in this retreat, given the way things are going. Things aren’t great down here. The moon herself was recently the subject of an attempted hexing by “baby TikTok witches.” At least we can hope that she runs into some aliens out there in space and lets them know that some of us are really ready to go somewhere else.

Is the Moon Fed Up With Us?