I’ve known for a while now that the names of Benedick and Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing both mean “blessed,” from the Latin ‘benedictus’ and ‘beatus’ respectively.
But when I looked up the Latin words in the dictionary I discovered it would be more accurate to say that “beatus” means “blessing” while “benedictus” means “one who is blessed.”
Which makes Beatrice a blessing and Benedick the one who is blessed.
All the romance and credit go to Apollo XI and Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, but please don’t forget Apollo 8 and the amazing contribution made by these Astronauts: Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders, who circled the Moon ten times exactly 45 years ago today on Christmas Eve 1968.
Do not underestimate the technical achievement or ambition of Apollo 8: the mission had originally been scheduled as an Earth orbit only mission for early 1969 but was bumped up in the schedule and re-designed to travel to the moon months earlier as the Lunar Module was not ready for flight. Apollo 8 took three days to travel to the Moon, then spent 20 hours making 10 orbits, taking the famous ‘Earthrise’ photo on its fourth orbit, after Borman turned the craft to face the lunar surface. Apollo 8 would return safely to Earth for splash down on December 27, 1968. Lovell would later fly the near disastrous Apollo 13 mission, while Borman and Anders were on their last flight. Go out tonight and pause to remember these three men, travelling over half a million miles to take a photo-a photo that re-defined the way we look at the Earth.
The Earth’s moon holds a special place in the human heart: it exists not only as our nearest celestial neighbor, it is also one of the richest sources of metaphor and poetry. Despite Shakespeare’s denigration that “the moon’s an arrant thief, And her pale fire she snatches from the sun,” the moonhas a long history in literature, poetry and song. The word itself comes from Old English mona, from Proto Germanic *mænon- (cf. Old Saxon, Old High German mano, Old Frisian mona, Old Norse mani, Dutch maan, German Mond, Gothic mena all meaning moon), from Proto Indo European *me(n)ses- meaning moon, month (cf. Sanskrit. masah meaning moon, month; Avestan ma, Persian. mah, Armenian mismonth; Ancient Greek. mene moon, men month; L. mensis “month;” O.C.S. meseci, Lith. menesis meaning moon, month; Old Irish mi, Welsh mis, Breton mizmonth), probably from base *me- meaning to measure, in reference to the moon’s phases as the measure of time. In Greek, Italic, Celtic, Armenian the cognate words now mean only month. First used to describe the satellites of other planet’s 1665.
Shakespeare quote from Timon of Athens.
All Images courtesy NASA in the public domain. Earthrise photo by William Anders.