We notice the Moon lighting every night with a clear sky, but only a few of us wonder about the nature and the origin of this large mass orbiting our planet. Why did it choose our planet? What are the effects of its movement on Earth? What is it made of? How would it feel to be on the Moon? This quick list aims to answer these questions and more by presenting you with a few of the most surprising facts about Earth’s natural moon.
1. The origin of Earth’s natural satellite
Over the decades, there have been numerous theories regarding the origin of Earth’s natural satellite, some of them quite strange. However, the hypothesis that is currently accepted by the overwhelming majority of scientists who have studied the matter believe that the Moon is actually a fragment of our planet, Earth. This theory suggests that the satellite was formed approximately 4.5 billion years back in the wake of the collision between Earth and an object of similar dimensions to Mars. While the collision generated an inconsistent mass of debris floating on the orbit of our planet, it eventually congregated into a spherical form. The components of the Moon as well as the lower density of the satellite come to support the theory that it has originated from the upper layer of the Earth.
2. The dark side of the Moon
Originally, the Moon was rotating around its own axis just like the earth. However, over the course of billions and billions of years, the gravitational field emitted by the Earth caused it to decelerate up to a full stop. Therefore, only a single side of the natural satellite is viewable from our planet and it is always the same. Even though our gravitation field has an effect over the moon, it is exercised differently over several points and it does not trigger a turning movement. A similar situation happens with Pluto and Charon, the other two interlocked space bodies in our Solar System. To put it simply, while there is no actually dark side of the Moon from a broad perspective, we will never see it from our planet.
3. The Moon’s less known movement
Everyone knows that the Moon is orbiting around the Earth, but few are aware of the fact that it is also moving away from our planet by approximately 4 centimeters every year. Astrophysicists have found that this movement is determined by the conservation of momentum and will probably cease in approximately 50 billion years. At that point, it is estimated that the Moon’s stabilized orbit will require about 47 days to execute a full rotation around Earth. On a side note, the average duration of the current orbit requires 27.3 days to complete a full rotation.
4. The proportionality between the Moon and the Sun
Have you ever noticed that the dimensions of the Moon and those of the Sun appear strikingly similar from our perspective? However, science teaches us that the Moon is approximately 400 times smaller compared to the sun of our system, so how can this be? Well, even though the circumference of the sun is much larger, the distance between it and our plane is also 400 higher. This is the mother of all space coincidences and the primary reason why we perceive the dimensions of the two astral bodies as being the same.
5. The gravity of the natural satellite
Due to the density of the Moon and the lower dimensions, its gravity is also extremely reduced compared to Earth, namely approximately 17%. This means that even an overweight person would be able to execute spectacular jumps there and even fly around if he would equip a pair of wings. At the same time, lifting and transporting heavy items on the Moon would be incredibly easy.
6. The lack of originality in its name
When they named our planet’s moon The Moon, the astronomers of the time were unaware of the fact that the cosmos accommodates other planets with natural satellites orbiting them as well. Therefore, here is the explanation for the lack of originality in the name. However, keep in mind that referring to other moons implies no capitalization of the first letter, whereas talking about the Earth’s satellite necessitates a capital “M”.
7. The dimension ranking of the Moon in our Solar System
Just like in the case of the illusion that the Moon and the Sun have similar dimensions because of its proximity to our planet, people are tempted to believe that this space body is the biggest natural satellite in our system. Wrong, it is in fact the 5th biggest satellite in the Solar System and the first position in this top is occupied by Ganymede, the moon of Jupiter.
8. The number of people to set foot on it
Few people have been lucky enough to set foot on the Moon so far, even though during the 60s and 70s the propaganda about the colonization of this astral body was everywhere. To be more precise, only 12 astronauts managed to deploy their spacecraft on the surface of this satellite and all moon landings took place in the period between 1969 and 1972.
9. Our plans for re-conquering the Moon
Even though any real progress in our quest for colonizing the Moon has not been recorded in the past four decades, NASA does in fact plan to get its astronauts back there again. The timeframe estimated for this operation has been extended to 2019. However, only time will tell if they can back up their promise.
10. The Moon’s effects on the Earth
You have probably learned in school that the Moon is responsible for the tides on our planet. However, this satellite is not the only space body to affect the tides because the water on Earth is also subjected to the Sun’s gravitational pull. Therefore, the alignment of these two astral bodies is what determines the times when the tides are at an all time high and at an all time low. Furthermore, in addition to the effect over the water’s movement, the Moon also determines movements of the Earth crust, even though at an imperceptible level.