The Moon (or Luna) is the Earth’s only natural satellite – a celestial body that orbits a planet and was formed 4.5 billion years ago after the formation of the solar system.
First of all, let’s talk about some basic facts about the moon.
1. The Moon Statistics:
- Average Orbit Distance: 238,855 mi/384,400 km
- Equatorial Radius: 1079.6 mi /1737.5 km
- Equatorial Circumference: 6,783.5 mi/10,917.0 km
- Diameter: 2,160 miles(3,476 km)
- Volume: 21,971,669,064 km3
- Density: 3.344g/cm3
- Mass: 73,476,730,924,573,500,000,000 kg
- Surface Area: 14,647,439.75 sq mi/37,936,694.79km2
- Equatorial Inclination: 6.68 degrees
- Distance From Moon: 2,38,900 miles(3,84,000 km)
- Speed: 2,300 miles/hr(3,700 km/hr)
Did you know there’s no such thing as a dark side of a moon? And if you think the moon is causing the wild moods of a certain someone, then read on …
2. The Moon Is The Perfect Size For Solar Eclipses
A rare set of circumstances make total solar eclipses possible. The Moon is just the right size and distance from our planet to appear as the same size as the Sun in the sky. When the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, it covers the Sun perfectly with an impressive corona illuminating its edges. If it were any smaller or farther from Earth, it would look like a patch spot on the Sun during a solar eclipse.
3. A Full Moon Has Different Nicknames
A full moon can have many colorful names, but they don’t always describe a special celestial phenomenon. Some are used to refer to a full moon that appears during a certain time of year. The full moon closest to the autumn equinox is called a harvest moon which is the best-known example, but there are many others, including a wolf moon (first full moon of January), strawberry moon (June), and sturgeon moon (August).
4. It isn’t The Largest Moon In The Solar System
Our Moon(Earth) isn’t the largest in the solar system (that spot goes to Ganymede, one of Jupiter’s 79 moons which is bigger than Mercury or Pluto ), but it is the biggest in relation to the planet it orbits. With a diameter of 2159 miles and a surface area of 14.6 million square miles, the Moon is a little more than quarter the size of Earth. The other bigger ones, in order of size, are Titan (Saturn), Callisto (Jupiter) and Lo (Jupiter).
5. Scientists Thought Moon Dust Would Cause Lunar Landers To Sink
When preparing to send missions to the Moon, some scientists feared that a thick layer of dust on the body’s surface would cause complications. One of the strongest example of the dust theory was Thomas Gold, an astrophysicist at Cornell University. He insisted that the Moon was covered in seas of dust soft and thick enough to swallow a lunar lander. Though the Moon’s surface is dusty, the layer is too thin to cause problems, as the successful landings of the Soviet Luna 9 and the American Surveyor spacecrafts proved in 1966.
6. The Moon Is International Property
Astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong may have planted an American flag on the Moon in 1969, but it belongs to the world. Countries like the Soviet Union and the U.S. made sure of that at the height of the space race in 1967 when they signed the Outer Space Treaty, a document declaring that the Moon would be a “global commons” and any resources discovered there would be used for the good of the world overall. In keeping with the spirit of the agreement, NASA shared soil samples taken from the Moon with Soviet scientists upon the Apollo 11 mission’s return.
7. Humans Have Left Strange Things On The Moon
Since the first people landed on the Moon in 1969, its surface has been home to more than just dust. Earth artifacts left on the Moon by astronauts include two golf balls, an obscene Andy Warhol doodle, and a message from Queen Elizabeth II.In fact there’s a rumour that human poop is also there. Eugene Cernan, Apollo 17 commander and one of the last people to walk on the Moon, traced his daughter’s initials into the soil when he visited in 1972. Without any wind or weather on the Moon, the letters TDC could remain there forever.
8. It would take hundreds of thousands of moons to equal the brightness of the sun
The full moon shines with a magnitude of -12.7, but the sun is 14 magnitudes brighter, at -26.7. The ratio of brightness of the sun versus the moon amounts to a difference of 398,110 to 1. So that’s how many full moons you would need to equal the brightness of the sun.But this is impossible, because there is no way that you could fit that many full moons in the sky.
9. There are rules for naming the moon’s craters
The lunar craters were formed by asteroids and comets that collided with the moon. Roughly 300,000 craters wider than 1 km (0.6 miles) are estimated to be on the moon’s near side alone.
They have got names for scholars, scientists, artists and explorers. For example, Copernicus Crater has got his name for Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish astronomer who realized in the 1500s that the planets move about the sun. Archimedes Crater has got his name for the Greek mathematician Archimedes, who made many mathematical discoveries in the third century B.C.
The names of craters now tend to fall into two groups. Typically, moon craters have been named for deceased scientists, scholars, explorers, and artists who’ve been known for their contributions to their respective fields. The craters around the Apollo crater and the Mare Moscoviense are to be named after deceased American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts.
10. The moon encompasses a huge temperature range
If you survey the Internet for temperature data on the moon, you’re going to run into quite a bit of confusion. But I managed to fetch it for you only.
The temperature on the Moon varies from super hot to super cold! When the Sun hits its surface, temperatures can reach a scorching 127°C. But when the Sun ‘goes down’, temperatures can fall to around -153°C.
During a lunar eclipse, as the moon moves into the Earth’s shadow, the surface temperature can plunge about 500 degrees F (300 degrees C) in less than 90 minutes.
11. The dark side of the moon is a myth
In reality both sides of the Moon see the same amount of sunlight however only one face of the Moon is ever seen from Earth. This is because the Moon rotates around on its own axis in exactly the same time it takes to orbit the Earth, meaning the same side is always facing the Earth. The human eye from spacecraft has seen the other side of the Moon.
12. The Moon causes the rise and fall of the tides on Earth
There are two bulges in the Earth due to the gravitational pull that the Moon exerts; one on the side facing the Moon, and the other on the opposite side that faces away from the Moon, The bulges move around the oceans as the Earth rotates, causing high and low tides around the globe.
13. The Moon is drifting away from the Earth
As you are reading this, The Moon is moving approximately 3.8 cm away from our planet every year. The estimate is that it will continue to do so for around 50 billion years. By the time that happens, the Moon will be taking around 47 days to orbit the Earth instead of the current 27.3 days.
14. A person would weigh much less on the Moon
The Moon has much weaker gravity than Earth, due to its smaller mass, so you would weigh about one sixth (16.67%) of your weight on Moon.
15. Caution!! The Moon has quakes
They are not earthquakes but moonquakes. They are much weaker than earthquakes though. The gravitational pull of the Earth is one of the major factors for moonquakes. Lunar astronauts used seismographs on their visits to the Moon, and found that small moonquakes occurred several kilometers beneath the surface, causing ruptures and cracks. Scientists think the Moon has a molten core, just like Earth.
16. The Moon is the fifth largest natural satellite in the Solar System
The Moon rotates on its axis in around the same length of time it takes to orbit the Earth. This means that from Earth we only ever see around 60% of its surface (50% at any one time). At 3,475 km in diameter, the Moon is much smaller than the major moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Earth is about 80 times the volume than the Moon, but both are about the same age.
17. The Sun and the Moon are not the same size
From Earth, both the Sun and the Moon look about same size. This is because, the Moon is 400 times smaller than the Sun, but also 400 times closer to Earth.
18. How did the moon form?
According to the “giant impact” theory, the young Earth had no moon. At some point in Earth’s early history, a rogue planet, larger than Mars,named Theia struck the Earth in a gigantic and glancing blow. Instantly, most of the rogue body and a sizable chunk of Earth were vaporized. The cloud rose to above 13,700 miles (22,000 kilometers) altitude, where it condensed into innumerable solid particles that orbited the Earth as they aggregated into ever larger moonlets, which eventually combined to form the moon.
Although the Moon shines bright in the night sky, it doesn’t produce its own light. We see the Moon because it reflects light from the Sun.
19. During the 1950s, the USA considered detonating a nuclear bomb on the Moon
It is true, in the era of 1950, the USA planned to detonate the moon with nuclear bomb. The secret project was during the height cold war was known as “A Study of Lunar Research Flights” or “Project A119” and meant as to show strength at a time when they were lagging behind in the space race.
20. The moon’s shape is like a lemon
Even though the moon always looks perfectly round in the night sky, but it’s actually more of an oval shape. The gravitational forces from Earth have helped to exaggerate the Moon’s oblong appearance over eons.
21. The American flags left on the Moon are completely white
Recent data showed that the American flags are still standing on the moon. One issue? They are probably blank.The radiation from the sun has bleached out the red and blue colors of the Nylon flags that lunar astronauts left on the surface of the Moon 43 years ago.
22. Only American men have walked on Moon till now
Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin and Neil Armstrong walked on the surface of the moon, July 30, 1969, with seismographic equipment which he just set up.
The Apollo mission have successfully sent 12 people to the Moon including:
- Apollo 11 – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin
- Apollo 12 – Pete Conrad and Alan Bean
- Apollo 14 – Alan B. Shepard and Edgar Mitchell
- Apollo 15 – David Scott and James Irwin
- Apollo 16 – John Young and Charles Duke
- Apollo 17 – Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt
Since then only unmanned vehicles have visited the Moon.
23. Eugene Shoemaker Is The Only Man Buried On Moon
Believe it or not, one man is buried on the Moon. His name is Eugene Shoemaker, and he pioneered planetary science. He trained the astronauts headed to the Moon, and even sat next to Walter Cronkite on air as NASA’s spokesperson on the status of the moon missions. He named many of the craters, valleys, and mountains on the Moon.
Shoemaker spent much of his later life trekking across the globe to find impact craters that had gone unnoticed. Tragically, one of these trips ended in a fatal car crash. Eventually, Shoemaker’s ashes were sealed in a metal cylinder and sent to the Moon.
24. A lunar eclipse saved Christopher Columbus
“The Moon even saved the explorer Christopher Columbus from starvation.” After consulting with his crew, Columbus used the lunar eclipse of February 29, 1504, to frighten the native Arawak Indians on the island of Jamaica into giving him and his crew food. According to his son Ferdinand, at the sight of the eclipse the Arawaks “with great howling and lamentation came running from every direction to the ships laden with provisions.”
25. Why Isn’t The Moon a Planet Like Earth?
The Moon is bigger than the dwarf-planet ‘Pluto’, so why isn’t the Moon considered a planet like the Earth?
An organization called the International Astronomical Union (IAU) governs all these things. According to the IAU, a natural satellite cannot belong to two categories. In other words, the Earth’s Moon cannot be a moon and a planet, too. So the Moon is not a planet.
However, the Moon and Earth share a lot of planet-like qualities.
1. Both the Moon and the Earth have three layers: mantle, crust, core. This means that the Moon is like a planet.
2. Both the Moon and the Earth are still active geologically. This means both still have evolving rock surfaces. Moon rock formations are constantly changing.
3.The Moon has active volcanoes just like Earth still has active volcanoes today. This activity influenced the moon’s evolution just like it influenced Earth’s evolution.