Learning about the moon is something that everyone should do. There are a ton of different moon facts out there and new things to learn about our satellite, and one of the bigger moon’s in the Solar System. Although we know a lot about the moon, there are still things we don’t know, and we’re making new discoveries all the time. Let’s look at some of the facts about Earth’s moon.
- The moon is 27% the size of Earth. This makes our moon is the largest moon relative to the size of its planet.
- However, the moon is only the fifth largest satellite in our solar system. Jupiter moons Ganymede, Callisto and Io are bigger, as well as Saturn’s Titan.
- The moon is generally accepted as a grey/white color, although in 1973 Apollo 17 did find orange soil on the moon.
- The moon is an estimated 238856 miles (384,400 km) from our planet Earth. However, this is an average distance from Earth, as it does vary in distance throughout its orbit.
- The surface gravity on the moon is only 16.5% as powerful as it is on the Earth. This means a 200lb man would only weigh 33lbs on the moon!
- Like the word Earth, moon can be traced back to old English, coming from the word “month”.
- Another word that has been used for the moon is “Luna”, which is where the word “lunar” originates.
- Like any planet, the moon has a core, mantle and a crust. It has an iron core like the planets, surrounded by a mantle made up of minerals.
- During the daytime, the moon can get extremely hot. It’s not uncommon for it to reach temperatures of 130°c.
- However in the nighttime, the moon can easily get as cold as below -200°c. This is because there’s no atmosphere on the moon, meaning there’s no layer to prevent it from getting so hot.
- The moon and the Sun seem like they’re the same size in our sky. However, the Sun is 400x the size of the moon; but it’s also around 400x the distance away from us too, which explains the similarity in size from our perspective.
The Moon’s Core
The moon has a core, just like we think all of the planets do. This is made up of iron and nickel. Whilst the inner core is solid, the outer core is molten and liquid, as the temperature in the center of the moon is in excess of 1000°c.
The moon’s mantle is more complex. The mantle primarily consists of minerals such as olivine, orthopyroxene and clinopyroxene. Outside of this is the crust, which is made up of a number of different elements like magnesium, iron, calcium, oxygen, silicone and aluminium.
On the surface of the Moon, we have lunar maria, which are the large dark plains that you can see across the moon which have been formed by volcanos. We also have lunar terrae, sometimes referred to as the highlands, which are much later than lunar maria.
As well as this, obviously there are a lot of craters all over the moon. This is caused by different meteors and asteroids colliding with the moon and leaving their mark.
A moon phase, or a lunar phase, is the shape of the moon we can see at night, dependent on it’s position and how illuminated it is. So, this is something that is commonly discussed in regards to the moon. This is thought to be an aspect of astrology, as different moon phases supposedly have different meanings. There are 9 different moon phases that the moon can take.
Each of these different moon phases change depending on the position of the moon in it’s orbit around the Earth, whilst the Earth orbits the Sun at the same time.
More Facts about the Moon
- For a long time, astronomers thought that the moon had no atmosphere. However, it actually does have a very thin atmosphere, made up of argon, helium and other gases.
- Although the Earth only has one moon, it does pick up other small asteroids in its orbit from time to time, which some people call second moons.
- Most people know that Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon. He made it to the moon on the Apollo 11 spacecraft with his lunar module pilot, Buzz Aldrin.
- To date, only twelve people, including Neil Armstrong, have walked on the moon.
- NASA has revealed that we will be going to the moon again by the year 2024, with the Artemis program.
- The moon equivalent of an earthquake is called a moonquake. They aren’t as powerful as an earthquake, and they aren’t as frequent either.
- There are hundreds of millions of different craters scattered across the moon’s surface.
- The most well known of the moon’s craters is the South Pole–Aitken basin, which is 1,600 miles (2,500km) in diameter.
- A month is approximately the amount of time it takes the moon to orbit Earth.
- The moon is actually very slowly drifting away from the Earth, a few inches a year.
Most Common Questions about the Moon
Why does the moon have so many craters?
You see that the Earth has barely any craters, and then see that the moon has so many. With the Earth being much bigger than the moon, isn’t it likely it would have at least as many craters as the moon? Well, the difference is that craters on the Earth will go away over time. They will erode away, and Earth will naturally form new rocks. Because the moon has barely any atmosphere, the craters it gets just stay there!
Does the Earth have two moons?
In early 2020, NASA announced that there is a small asteroid that has been caught in the Earth’s orbit – we think that it was caught within the last few years. However, this was only a temporary asteroid, as it escaped out of Earth’s gravitation just a few months later. This asteroid was called 2020 CD3. So now, our moon is the Earth’s only natural satellite.
Can you see the moon during the day?
For the most part, we see the moon during the night. However, there are actually occasions where you can see the moon during the daytime, and many people wonder why that is. The answer is that the moon is bright enough to be seen during the day, but most of the time it is likely covered by the Earth, so we don’t have the right angle to see the moon.
Can the Earth survive with no moon?
An interesting question to ask is what would happen to the Earth if there were no moon. The answer is that yes, the Earth could survive, but things would be quite different. The Earth would be a lot darker during the nighttime without no luminosity coming from the moon. The ocean’s tides would also be affected, as the moon is the cause of high and low tides.
Who found water on the Moon?
In 1976, the Soviet Union took a sample of the moon’s composition with their probe, Luna 24. Around 18 months later when back on Earth, they found that this sample was actually comprised of 0.1% water. So whilst water on the moon’s surface is non-existent, the moon does contain some water inside.
All in all, our moon is one of the largest of all the moons in the solar system and it’s something we now know quite a lot about. It is only a few hundred thousand miles away from us, which sounds like a lot, but in astronomy terms it’s actually very little! With an upcoming mission to the moon in the next few years, we’re sure to learn a whole lot more about it.