Diana or Luna
Diana, or Luna, Roman goddess of the Moon, animals, and hunting (Earth’s moon).
Luna gives us “lunar” from Latin lucere, meaning “to shine.” Luna’s
symbol, as seen below, is a crescent Moon.
Mythological History of the Moon
The goddess of the Moon was called Luna and Diana by the Romans, Selene and Artemis
by the Greeks, and many other names in other mythologies. However, in some mythological
tales, these goddesses are separate entities. For example, the temple in honor of
the goddess Luna is not the same as that of the goddess Diana, though they are both
considered moon goddesses. In Greek mythology, the twin sister of Apollo was Artemis; also known as Diana, Phoebe, Selene,
or Cynthia; this goddess represented the Moon, maidens, hunting (the chase), and
was the daughter of Zeus and Latona. In works of art, this goddess is generally
represented as a beautiful maiden, clad in a short hunting dress, armed with a bow,
a quiver full of arrows at her side, and a crescent on her well-poised head. The
sudden deaths of women were attributed to her shafts; but, she was also a goddess
of healing. She was represented many times as a huntress, with hunting dogs and
a boar’s head at her side. Diana is described as guiding her silvery chariot
over the sky at night. She had three aspects: Luna in the heavens, Diana on earth,
and Hecate, goddess of witchcraft, in the underworld.
It’s worth noting here that Juno (in Greek, Hera) was also at some times considered
a moon goddess. The lunar calendar (an ancient way of measuring time) was especially
sacred to Juno. Juno was also considered a goddess of childbirth, whereas her Greek
counterpart, Hera, was the patron goddess of marriage.
Scientific facts about the Moon
The Moon is the only natural satellite of Earth. It’s the fifth largest natural satellite in our solar system, has
1/4 diameter that of Earth and 1/81 the mass of Earth. The Moon does not emit light.
However, it is the brightest object in our solar system, apart from the Sun. The surface is actually very dark in color, similar
to coal. What we see is sunlight reflected from the Moon’s surface as the Moon
goes through its familiar phases. Because Earth spins faster than the Moon revolves,
the Moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night. During the new phase,
Moon and Sun rise and set at the same time; but, from then on, the Moon appears
in different parts of the sky: in the west as it waxes larger towards gibbous, in
the east as it wanes smaller.
Total eclipses occur when the Moon and Earth line up perfectly with the Sun. During
a solar eclipse, the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, hiding the Sun on a
small area of Earth. During a lunar eclipse, the full Moon moves into Earth’s
shadow and is blacked out. Moon and Earth, tied together by gravitational attraction,
revolve as a double planet. The gravitational force of the Moon, and to a lesser
extent the Sun, raises the ocean tides on Earth. A great bulge of water is pulled
up on the side of the Earth facing the Moon and held there. As Earth rotates beneath
the bulge, high tides occur and then because of Earth’s rotation, the tide
seems to move from east to west. Because the Moon rotates on its axis in exactly
the time it takes to orbit the Earth, it nearly always presents the same side to
us. This effect is called synchronous rotation. None of the other planets has a
moon like the Earth. Mercury and Venus have no moons at all, and Mars is orbited
only by two tiny chunks of rock, each just one ten-millionth the size of Earth’s
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