Do you have 5 minutes for the Moon?
I experienced a “moonlight collector” a few months ago, and I still don’t know what to make of it. So, I thought I’d put the details here to see if you might offer some insight. Some friends invited me to visit this array. I live a couple of hours away from the site, and it’s become something of a local phenomenon, so I thought I’d get my moonbath in before the world came to their door. I’ve met the founders of Interstellar Light Applications, and I know some of the people involved. For the most part, these are reasonable business people and scientists, seeing an opportunity to do some research. My experience was much like that portrayed in this 5 minute video report by a local news station. In the video, I particularly enjoy the fellow at the end who “wants to sing”. He wasn’t there the night I was.
To get to the interstellar array one must drive down a long country road, and make a few unexpected turns. The instrument is in an out-of-the way location, way out in the desert, to minimize distractions from city lights. It would be VERY dark out there if the moon wasn’t full. The moonbathing takes place during the 3 or 4 days when the moon is most full, and sometimes weather interferes with a clear moon view, so the days open to the public are limited. My little group each took numbers, and waited in a long line sitting on bales of hay. The hosts gave us bottled water, and lots of encouragement. Only two, or at most three people can go into the moon chamber at a time, and we’re each given two minutes once we’re in. The array is adjusted every few minutes to follow the path of the full moon, in order to give the experiencer as much light as possible:
“…The ILA collector is a parabolic non-imaging optical collector composed of 8 mirrored collection panels. At 52 feet high, 60 feet across and weighing 25 tons, this breathtaking device is colossal, yet has the maneuvering capability and precision of a Swiss watch.”
I didn’t think of this at the time, but I remember watching re-runs of The Addams Family. Some of the episodes included scenes of the family out “moonbathing” in the evening. I used to love these scenes, with everyone wearing their moon suits, and the adults warning the children against moonburn. I always wanted (well, just a little) to be an Addams, so this adventure proves I have something in common with them. But I digress.
The thing about the moonlight collector is that I probably wouldn’t get a moonburn, given our understanding of moonlight. But…do we really understand moonlight?
“Light cast by the moon is 500,000 times less bright than the sun. This light, reflected from the sun, presents a distinctive spectrum composed of more reds and yellows, and possesses a different frequency than sunlight. This specific light spectrum has never been artificially duplicated.”
So, as the video explains, scientists have not done a lot about collecting and analysing this kind of light. There has been much research done with sunlight, solar collectors, and solar energy. Moonlight, however, has been considered the “little sister” of the sun, in spite of its place in mythology, science, and religion. An article in Popular Science discusses some of the research.
Here’s what happened to me: My turn came. I walked inside a small metal trailer which had been adapted so that its entire side was open to the air. We were told to take off as much of our clothing as we felt comfortable with, in order to expose as much skin as possible. I was there during one of the few really cool months we have in the desert, and though chilly, I did strip down to a t-shirt. I had brought some stones with me, and took them out of my pocket to hold them in the light. I stood there. I waited. It was very bright and somewhat eerie. I felt a mild tingling sensation, but I’m not sure if that was due to “suggestion”. It was a bit hypnotic–after all, who of us has not gazed at the moon from time to time, and wondered at its beauty? This was sort of a combination of moongazing and being on a spaceship. Or what I imagine being on a spaceship would be like.
My two minutes were over quickly, and as quickly, I put my sweater back on. Brrrr. I felt pleasantly peaceful, but not dramatically changed or healed. I hadn’t picked a particular physical condition to concentrate upon while in the chamber, but some of those I was with said they’d had muscle aches before they went in, and no longer had them.
Since then, I have shrugged my shoulders, waited, and wondered.
Look how the pale Queen of the silent night
doth cause the ocean to attend upon her,
and he, as long as she is in sight,
with his full tide is ready hee to honor – Charles Best, 1608