|From Grade Six Daily Paragraph Editing (2004).|
Question: In the paragraph above, a question came up regarding proper capitalization of the word "moon" in line two: "his/crew was on his way to the moon." One student suggested that the word moon should be capitalized because it is referring to our (Earth's) moon, as evidenced by the article "the" preceding the noun. Should "moon" be capitalized, as a specific celestial body, or is the noun suitably common and should therefore remain lowercase?
Answer: One online source reads that "Names of celestial bodies: Mars, Saturn, the Milky Way (are capitalized). Do not, however, capitalize earth, moon, sun, except when those names appear in a context in which other (capitalized) celestial bodies are mentioned. 'I like it here on earth,' but 'It is further from Earth to Mars than it is from Mercury to the Sun.'" The key here is the necessary presence of a secondary specific celestial body (Mars, Earth, Haley's Comet) if one is to correctly proofread line two by capitalizing "moon". In this case, the answer key was correct, and reflected the grammatical rule that the names of certain celestial bodies (moon, earth, sun) are not capitalized except when those names appear in a context in which other (capitalized) celestial bodies.