Cool Facts About the Moon
We have the largest moon in the solar system!
Well, that's relative. It is the largest satellite compared to the size of its planet. Our moon therefore affects our planet more than any other planets' moons.
Without the moon, life probably would not exist.
The moon causes tides, and scientists believe that life evolved in the intertidal zone. The moon also aligns the poles, which causes predictable seasons on our planet, and it causes the day to be about 24 hours long.
Theories of how we got our moon:
1. Double planet theory. This states that the moon and the Earth were created around the same time. The moon was another planet that got pulled into Earth's orbit.
2. Fission theory. When the Earth was first created, it was spinning so fast that part of it flung off and turned into the moon.
3. Capture theory. The moon was just another spacial body cruising along when it got pulled into the Earth's orbit.
4. Large impact theory. A huge object hit the Earth and fused with our planet, but some material was thrown off from the impact and went into orbit, forming a ring around the Earth, much like the rings of Saturn. Eventually, the material clumped together to form the moon.
The Phases of the Moon
The illustration below shows how the moon appears to go through phases. The sun shines from the right, leaving half of the moon in shadow at all times. The phases that the moon appears to go through are just the effects of light, shadow, and the angle at which we see the moon.
What is it like on the moon?
We always see the same side of the moon, but we know what the other side looks like due to spacecraft.
The moon doesn't have enough gravity to have an atmosphere. Since there's no atmosphere, there's no sound and the sky is always black, even during the day.
The image below is from NASA, and entitled Earthrise. It shows the Earth "rising" over the moon. This picture was taken from a spacecraft in orbit around the moon. Someone standing on the moon could not actually see the Earth.
Main sections of the moon's structure.
Below is a drawing of what scientists believe the inside of the moon is like.
Similar to what we know about the Earth, the Moon has a thin, cool crust. Then it has a large, dense mantle and multi-layered, extremely hot core. The external part of the core is liquid, and the internal part is solid metal.
A video from the 1969 moon landing:
I once traveled to a small town in the country in Chile, where I stayed with a wonderful family that took me in. This Chilean family was happy to have a foreigner in their house, but had very mixed feelings concerning many aspects of the United States. One of the subjects brought up was the 1969 moon landing, which they all believed was a hoax. I was surprised, because I was very young at the time and had never heard anything about the moon landing being fake.
There are many sub-cultures that have promoted the idea that the U.S. landing on the moon was a hoax, citing evidence such as the movement of the flag. However, I have read arguments on both sides and I still believe that people walked on the moon!
- Astronomy 101. Phases of the Moon, Lunar Eclipse, Solar Eclipse, and More.
If you're interested in learning about a Lunar Eclipse, including information on how to view it, check out this article that I wrote.