Neil deGrasse Tyson: “Because of Pink Floyd, I’ve Spent Decades Undoing the Idea That There’s a Dark Side of the Moon”

In 1973, Pink Floyd released their influ­en­tial con­cept album, The Dark Side of the Moon, which gar­nered both crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cess. The album sold some 45 mil­lion copies, and remained on Bill­board­’s Top LPs & Tapes chart for 741 weeks (from 1973 to 1988). All of which was great for Pink Floyd. But not so much for sci­ence and edu­ca­tion.

As Neil deGrasse Tyson explains above. “That Pink Floyd had an album with that title meant I spent decades hav­ing to undo [that fact] as an edu­ca­tor.” That’s because “there is no dark side of the moon.” “There’s a far side and there’s a near.” “But all sides of the moon receive sun­light across the month.”

To delve deep­er into this, it’s worth read­ing this short arti­cle (Myth­busters: Is There Real­ly a Dark Side of the Moon?) from Yale Sci­en­tif­ic Mag­a­zine. There, they elab­o­rate:

No mat­ter where we are on Earth, we see and always have seen only one face of the moon. Since the moon rotates on its axis in the same amount of time that it takes the body to orbit our plan­et, the same half face of the moon is con­sis­tent­ly exposed to view­ers on Earth. This tim­ing is caused by a phe­nom­e­non called tidal lock­ing, which occurs when a larg­er astro­nom­i­cal body (Earth) exerts a strong grav­i­ta­tion­al pull on a small­er body (the moon), forc­ing one side of the small­er body to always face the larg­er one.…

[T]he fact that we earth­lings can­not see the far side of the moon does not mean that this face is nev­er exposed to sun­light. In fact, the far side of the moon is no more and no less dark than the hemi­sphere we do see.

Get the rest here.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intel­li­gent Per­son Should Read

David Byrne & Neil deGrasse Tyson Explain the Impor­tance of an Arts Edu­ca­tion (and How It Strength­ens Sci­ence & Civ­i­liza­tion)

Michio Kaku & Noam Chom­sky School Moon Land­ing and 9/11 Con­spir­a­cy The­o­rists

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Comments (19)
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  • Fred says:

    The chasim between art and sci­ence if often very wide. At least he did­n’t have to con­vince his stu­dents the moon was­n’t made out of cheese.

  • Hop David says:

    Well actu­al­ly… The far side is dark­er. It nev­er gets any earth light. The nights on the far side are always sty­gian black.

    From the near side how­ev­er, the earth is always in the sky. And it’s bright­est at mid­night. The earth is much brighter — it reflects more than 30 times the light our moon does.


  • Pieter says:

    In fact, i think there is no dark side on the moon. I think it is all dark

  • Martln says:

    At 1:37 in the last song on the album, “Eclipse”, spo­ken in the back­ground, you hear “There is no dark side of the moon, real­ly. Mat­ter of fact, it’s all dark.”. So, once again, you can’t judge an album by its title. Or some­thing like that.

  • Bienvenido Bones Banez Jr. says:

    Well, Pink Floyd have a right, they’re enti­tled that inter­pre­ta­tion, think about this, “There is no dark side of the moon, real­ly. Mat­ter of fact is all dark”. This means our human nature like a “moon” rep­re­sent the inno­cence souls of humankind,but “mat­ter of fact is all dark” this sym­bol­ize from dark teach­ing the deep things of Satan like exam­ples: some scientists,Pope, philoso­phers, polit­i­cal lead­ers, reli­gious lead­ers and some major satan­ic schol­ars have a cam­ou­flage being good sheep or good adviser,and pre­tend­ing know how about this uni­verse, and tru­ly hypocrisy from uni­ver­si­ty suck­ers. And we favor from Pink Floyd statements,and they’re eye open­er to the world of per­pet­u­al curse!

  • David says:

    did­n’t “dark side of the moon” come from Astro­nauts los­ing radio con­tact with Earth on the far side of the moon?

  • Thomas says:

    I lis­tened to this inter­view while also lis­ten­ing to Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. Breathe, breathe in the air Neil. You’ll be fine.

  • Howard says:

    No, the term “dark side of the moon” orig­i­nat­ed long before radio was invent­ed or astro­nauts trained. It referred sim­ply to the unknown, unseen side of the moon. Over time, we can view approx­i­mate­ly 59% of the moon’s sur­face. In 1951, the Sovi­et Union’s Luna 3 space­craft took the first pho­tographs of the far side of the moon. In 1960, the Sovi­et Union pub­lished an atlas of the fea­tures of the far side. In 1968, Amer­i­can astro­nauts became the first to see direct­ly the far side. No one has ever walked on the far side.

  • Luis says:

    The term “dark side” is used in Eng­lish, but oth­er lan­guages use dif­fer­ent expres­sions for the same con­cept, prob­a­bly more appro­pri­ate. for instance, in Span­ish the far side of the moon is called “la cara ocul­ta de la Luna” — The hid­den face
    of the moon-

  • Andy says:

    Yeah, but to be fair, you’ve made your own share of pub­lic mis­state­ments.

  • Bill says:

    I would beg to dis­agree with your posi­tion. If any­one viewed the total elcipse today I would offer that that is proof that there actu­al­ly is a “Dark Side Of the Moon”

  • Jawaid Bazyar says:

    dark: adj, “hid­den from knowl­edge; mys­te­ri­ous.”

    That’s the mean­ing of “dark side of the moon”.

    Also, the phrase was in com­mon use for hun­dreds of years before the Pink Floyd album.

    What igno­rance of his­to­ry and Eng­lish.

  • Andrew says:

    Yes. in the 17th and 18th cen­turies, Africa was a large white area on our maps and was referred to as “the Dark Con­ti­nent.” I tru­ly doubt any­one thought it was lit­er­al­ly night there 24/7. DeGrasse is a per­son with no imag­i­na­tion. How sad.

  • GregH says:

    This is not NGT’s finest hour. But it does con­tin­ue his gen­er­al pat­tern of self-serv­ing blath­er. But “Peo­ple like him!” so it does­n’t mat­ter.

  • Thomas Green says:

    The last line of the album, “There is no dark side of the moon, as a mat­ter of fact it’s all dark” refers to the fact that the moon makes no light at all. The light from the moon is reflect­ed sun­light.

  • Bread says:

    Isn’t that line a sam­ple of an astronomer try­ing to explain the thing this arti­cle is about?

  • jantruss says:

    It’s a door­man at the record­ing stu­dio being sage about the human psy­che, which was what the album was talk­ing about. NDT and many of the com­menters here seem to have a pecu­liar case of metaphor blind­ness.

  • rich graham says:

    So by that log­ic theres no dark side to the earth either? Mr Tyson is a rea­son­ably smart per­son, but his obses­sion with syn­tax is sopho­moric. The word “is” is present tence. Right now there is a side of the earth and moon that ‘is’ dark.

  • Diamond90 says:

    Fan of tyson but did he real­ize that it’s a metaphor for lost your mind and is a con­cept album? Plus dark side of the moon is not a song off the album :)

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