Far Side Of The Moon
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Basic Information

The Far Side of the Moon is the side of the moon you've never seen with your own unaided eyes, and never will, if you aren't an astronaut. Our moon is tidal locked so that one side of it always faces the earth, and the opposite side always faces away.

This is sometimes known as the Dark Side of the Moon, but that can be a little misleading. It's "dark" in the sense that we don't ever see it, not in the sense of lighting. Both sides of the moon experience regular daylight and darkness, in a month-long cycle that works out to 14 earth-days of constant light, followed by 14 earth-days of constant darkness. (As you've probably already deduced, when it's light on the "dark side of the moon", that means that the side facing us is in shadow, or what we call the "new moon".)


Game and Story Use

  • The dark side of the moon would be a great location for a variety of speculative fiction scenarios.
    • Because it is isolated from earth transmissions (there's a big moon-sized hunk of rock blocking all radio broadcasts from Earth), it's the perfect place to build a radio telescope. It seems likely that eventually some government/space agency will build one up there.
      • If your goal is to search for extraterrestrial intelligence, it's really darned useful to have a barrier (the moon) blocking any earthly transmissions that you might otherwise mistake for alien.
      • Even if your goal is just get a clearer view of distant interstellar terrain, the far side of the moon is a great place to set up shop. No "background noise" or static from earth, no atmospheric distortion or weather patterns to disrupt your view, and its unlikely that you'll have rowdy neighbors to worry about.
    • An alien invasion might set up a base there for maximum stealth. Stealth in space is pretty hard to pull off, but one way to do it is to keep a big opaque body (like the moon) between yourself and the target. So invaders who have any fear of our military capabilities are likely to plan their approach route to stay behind the moon for as much of the approach as possible. Even a peaceful study team with a desire to remain unobserved might well set up their base camp on the dark side
    • An evil mastermind, or covert government agency might also set up a moon base on the far side, so as to reduce the chances of being spied upon by their earthly enemies.
      • Getting stuff up there is extremely costly (about $10,000 USD per pound of weight[2]), and going to draw a lot of attention from space agencies and amateur astronomers alike. So setting up the base in secret is tricky. They'll probably have better luck with a cover story that makes their obvious work on the moon seem legit and non-threatening, rather than hoping some stealth technology will somehow hide the regular rocket launches they are making.
        • So maybe the evil billionaire openly funds a SETI radio telescope on the dark side, and then uses the same construction missions to build a secret HQ two craters over.
    • You've seen 2001: A Space Oddyssey, right? A von neumann probe, or precursor artifact could be on the dark side, undetected for a really long time, until we reach the point where we've colonized or at least explored a significant portion of the moon.
  • Tidal locking seems to be pretty common for moons orbiting planets, so any of these concepts could be easily transposed to other places in our solar system, or elsewhere in the galaxy.
  • Unfortunately, not a good place for vampires or other nocturnal aliens, since the dark side is daylit for 2 weeks at a time. So don't make the silly mistake lots of bad sci-fi writers have made, as space does not work that way.
  • For settings like Charles Stross's Laundryverse or other wainscot fantasy settings expeditions using gate magic, or other non-technological methods, could easily have visited the dark side of the moon. There are actually a couple of published Call of Cthulhu adventures using versions of this premise. Given the setting these never ended well. These could be fun things for future expeditions to trip over.
  • This is generally where Soviet lost cosmonauts end up - for example Yeremin, the protagonist of Jed Mercurio's novel Ascent.
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