The moon waxes and wanes in its phases month after month, and it always comes back. Except for that time in 1110, when records indicate that the moon vanished for months, or maybe even a year or longer. Scientists finally think they know what happened. Plus: a Japanese newspaper has a secret message about social distancing – but you have to be social distancing to read it.

In 1110, The Moon Vanished From The Sky. We Might Finally Know What Caused It (Science Alert)

A Japanese Newspaper’s Secret Social Distancing Message (Spoon + Tamago)

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It’s Tuesday, May 12th, a full moon.

In a few weeks we’ll have a new moon, the surreptitious phase of the lunar cycle.

But we know the moon comes back every time.

Except for that time in the year 1110, when records indicate that the moon vanished from the skies, and didn’t come back for months, or maybe even a year or longer.

That must have felt really creepy.

One observer recorded that “by little and little its light diminished, so that, as soon as night came, it was so completely extinguished withal, that neither light, nor orb, nor anything at all of it was seen.”

We know the moon is still in orbit around the Earth, so it didn’t go on holiday.

Something got in between the moon and the humans looking up at it (and probably the wolves that howled up at it).

A new study out of the University of Geneva in Switzerland points to a giant cloud of sulphur, probably caused by a volcanic eruption.

And, as it turns out, Mount Asama in Japan erupted in the year 1108, for months.

Evidence from tree rings shows it led to cooler temperatures, and the huge amounts of ash it left behind led to crop failures.

It also appears to have blocked out the moon, though, fortunately, it did eventually come back.

Here’s another story about something you can only see at a distance: a newspaper in Japan, Gifu Shimbun, just printed a special message that you have to get further away to see.

The message is about social distancing.

It says “even though we’re apart, our hearts are one.”

But they printed the message in a way that you can only read it if you’re social distancing from the paper.

Sometimes the medium really is the message.