I’m sitting about 1,000 miles from the surface of the moon and the silence is almost over powering. The absolute darkness of the terminator is in stark contrast to the almost dazzling reflection of sunlight from the lunar dawn.
Below me sits the nectarian Crater Longomontanus.
Dark, impenetrable shadows are slowly retreating across it’s smooth floor, while its sides climb wearily into the the light.
The crater is vast and very old. Inside those walls is an area of of over 1600km2 (which would comfortably accommodate my home city of London and it’s 8 million inhabitants) has sat gazing at developments on Earth for almost 4 Billion years.
This impact witnessed the opening chapter of life on Earth, when simple cells were beginning to scrape together a meagre living on an Earth that would have been utterly hostile to humans; this crater has seen the rise and fall of every epoch of life on Earth. It has watched continents form and reform and would have witnessed the immense fiery impact of Chicxulub 65 million years ago, that probably gave mammals a leg up in an environment dominated by the dinosaurs. It had seen the Sun rise over its rim amongst the Southern Lunar Highlands tens of billions of times before Earth’s darkness was broken by the artificial glow of civilisation. This crater was ancient before the ape that built the telescope had even breathed its first.
And here its sits, unmoved, scared by smaller impacts and flooded during the creation of the Lunar Mare; an event that gave Longomontanus it’s smooth floor .
Silently passing through another dawn.