Op-Ed: Crime by the Moon

Posted Feb 26, 2009 by Alex Volker
The impact of the Sun and Moon and the times in which they influence the amount of natural light, can have a significant impact on rural crimes. Various groups of criminals have vastly different Modus Operandi in executing their criminal plans.
The Moon
The Moon
The Moon and Crime
It is in the nature of criminals to seek a means of covertly escaping detection in order to perpetrate their nefarious deeds. To do this, they must find a way to operate with the least amount of risk to themselves to avoid being detected and thereafter make a clean getaway.
The cover of night is often the most convenient and least risky time to commit crime. During daylight hours, with visibility being high and normally having many witnesses around, the chances are higher of being caught. The challenges faced when sneaking around at night are, amongst others, also visibility. In especially a rural setting, with the lack of artificial light, which could easily draw attention to a person; it is difficult to navigate to the scene of the crime and thereafter escape before any wrongdoing has been noticed.
Society has become so dependant on electricity, that it is difficult to imagine life without these creature comforts. Less privileged people, most notably in rural settings, live mostly in the absence of artificial light. These groups have learnt to know and understand how the Moon provides light in the absence of Sunlight and how the different phases of the Moon illuminate the otherwise dark sky at night.
Among these communities, criminals take advantage of such knowledge to orchestrate and plan a strategy. In doing so, they can cover great distances on foot to their destinations, without much of a chance of being noticed. They can also meet up with a getaway vehicle a fair distance from the scene of the crime to make their escape.
In knowing the phases of the Moon and the times it rises and sets, due vigilance can be applied in the periods of high risk. This information can also be applied to establish the set trends for crime syndicates or groups and possibly find a link as an investigative aid.
The Moon – Definitions and Basic Information
As the Earth rotates along its axis each day all celestial bodies, most noticeably the Sun and the Moon, appear to rise in the East and set in the West. Sunrise and Sunset occurs when the upper edge of the Sun is on the Horizon, in a location which is largely level and atmospheric conditions are assumed to be average. The horizon is the furthest point one can see where the land meets the sky, pending no visual barrier obscuring one’s view.
The Earth’s surface appears to be flat, but the curvature of the Earth, which is essentially a sphere, limits the line of sight regardless of position on the globe. Similarly with Moonrise and Moonset, yet Moonrise and Set can occur at any time in a 24 hour period and at a specific location may not occur at all, on any given day i.e. The Moon may rise late in the day and only set again the following day. Also Moonset may precede Moonrise or the other way around. Any predictive times of the above are relative to the longitudinal and latitudinal co-ordinates of the location in question.
The time it takes for the moon to rotate around its own axis once is the same as the time it takes to orbit around Earth, therefore we only see one side of the moon. As a result the “far side” of the moon is never visible from earth. The Moon’s size is considerably smaller than that of the Sun, but because of its proximity compared to that of the Sun, it appears to be almost the same size. This creates the possibility of a full lunar eclipse.
Twilight is defined as the time before Sunrise or after Sunset where the influence of the Sun still illuminates the atmosphere resulting in the partial visibility of terrestrial objects, despite the fact that the Sun is below the Horizon. This period soon subsides into complete darkness, where The Sun has no impact at all on natural light at night. The Twilight periods can be sub-divided into three stages. Civil Twilight is the period directly before Sunrise or after Sunset, objects are still visible and normal activity in the absence of artificial light is still possible. During Nautical Twilight the outline of objects are still perceivable, but normal activity without artificial light is no longer possible. Astronomical Twilight is almost completely dark and the impact of the sun on the natural light is minimal. See more