Facts About The Moon - Our Only Natural Satellite

The Moon - facts about the Moon
The Moon
© Wikimedia

The Moon is the only natural satellite and the closest astronomical body of our earth. With a diameter of more than the quarter of the earth, it is the fifth natural satellite in our solar system. At the distance of 384,400 km, it revolves around the planet at the same rate it rotates. This rotation of the moon is called synchronous rotation. Although it looks so bright in the night sky, its surface is actually dark. In 1959, the moon was first visited by an unmanned spacecraft from Soviet Union's Luna 2. The first person to set foot on the moon was Neil Armstrong in the Apollo 11 space flight mission on July 20, 1969. After Apollo 17 in 1972, the moon is only visited by the unmanned spacecraft.

Facts about The Moon

Satellite Profile

Name Moon
Satellite of Earth
Distance from earth (avg) 384,400 km
Equatorial Radius 1,737.1 km
Polar Radius 1,736 km
Volume 2.19 × 1010 km3
Mass 7.342 × 1022 kg
Surface area 14.6 million km2
Gravity 1.62 m/s2
Max Temperature 123 ℃ or 253 °F
Max Temperature -153 ℃ or -243 °F
Length of day 29.5 Earth days
Length of year 27 Earth years
Astronomical symbol

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Quick Facts About Moon

  1. If there were no Moon, our days would have been 6-8 hrs long.
  2. Craters on the Moon were first named after famous scientists, artists and researchers, and later – after American and Russian astronauts.
  3. The Moon is not actually rounded but shaped like an egg.
  4. The Moon looks as if it was the same size as the Sun. The star is about 400 times bigger than the satellite, but astonishingly, it’s also 400 times farther from us.
  5. During the cold war, the U.S considered dropping an atomic bomb on the moon to show its military superiority.
  6. Although the Moon seems really bright, its ability to reflect sunlight is 3 times less than that of Earth. That's why, in combined photos, they make the Moon look brighter artificially.
  7. The Moon causes high and low tides on Earth. The gravitational influence of the Moon has this effect on the oceans. The highest tide can be seen at full or new Moon.
  8. The Moon is bigger than Pluto.
  9. There are huge temperature fluctuations on the Moon. Close to the Moon’s equator, the temperature rises from -208° F or -130° C (night) to +250 F or 120° C (day) .
  10. Russia sent a Tortoise to orbit the Moon before humans landed on the moon.
  11. Since there's no atmosphere, day changes into night instantly on the Moon. There's no twilight there.
  12. 600 million people watched the first man in history take his first step on the Lunar surface.
  13. Modern smartphones are more powerful than the computers that were used to land the “Apollo” spaceship on the Moon.
  14. There are fresh tracks on the Moon’s surface, even though almost 50 years have passed since astronauts last stepped on it. The tracks can stay there for millions of years because there’s no wind or liquid water on the Moon to erode them.
  15. 12 people have been to the Moon. Neil Armstrong was the first one in 1969, and Eugene Cernan, the last, in 1972.

Detailed Moon Facts

  • Moon ring like a bell

Apollo 12 Lunar module impact site
Apollo 12 Lunar module impact site

To understand what's going on inside the moon, the Apollo astronauts left Apollo lunar Experiment Package or ALEP. These ALEPs designed to measure shockwaves moving through the moon after an impact. The impact could be a meteorite strike or a more controlled strike from a lunar module.

After 150 hours of Apollo 12 mission, the lunar module was smashed into the moon's surface as part of NASA's inquiry into what the moon is made of. The shockwave built up over about eight minutes to hit its peak and then took a full hour to dissipate. While on earth, a magnitude 5 earthquake disappears in a matter of minutes. The scientists on earth who got the measurements back said it looks like the moon was ringing like a bell.
  • There are seas, oceans and bays on Moon

Major craters and maria on the moon's nearside
Major craters and maria on the moon's nearside
© Wikimedia

Those dark spots we can see from Earth are Known as lunar maria. The name stems from the Latin word for “sea,” or mare, and comes from astronomers who once thought they were actual bodies of water. The spots which cover about 17% of the Moon’s surface, are basaltic plains formed by volcanic eruptions in the days of yore. There are 17 seas, an ocean (of Storms) and 4 bays.

The confirmation of composition came from lunar rock and soil samples retrieved by the Apollo 11 mission. Based on the findings, the maria were dated to about 3.9 billion years ago. During this period, the surface suffered constant and massive salvo from asteroid-sized objects. These collisions cause craters that would be sustained for billions of years before being flooded with magma during volcanic events.
  • Moonbows or lunar Rainbows

Moonbow(Lunar rainbow), Kula, Hawaii
Moonbow(Lunar rainbow), Kula, Hawaii
© Wikimedia

We typically think of a rainbow as daytime occurrences, but moonbows, also known as lunar rainbows, appear at night! Rainbows appear when sunlight passes through water droplets in the air. The sun produces white light, which is a combination of all the possible colours. The water droplets act like glass prisms. It bends the light as it passes through them, separating white into its component parts.

Moonbows are very similar to rainbows. Instead of direct sunlight reflecting, the water droplets in the air refract moonlight which is technically still sunlight. Moonbows are most often seen as plain white arcs in the sky since the moon isn't as bright as the sun. The best time to see a moonbow is around the time of a full moon. Because that time the moon is more luminous and is giving off more light to refract.
  • Moon has its own Time Zone

There’s actually a 25th zone you may not be aware of it. It’s called "Lunar Standard Time" or "lunar mean solar time". The Lunar time is developed by Kenneth L. Franklin, who was the chief astronomer at Hayden Planetarium in New York. Just as it sounds, it is the conversion for figuring out what day and time it is on the Moon using your local data.

A year on the Moon consists of 12 days, named after astronauts who walked on the lunar surface. Days fall into 30 cycles, which in their turn, consist of hours, minutes and seconds. A lunar hour is called "Lunour", and there is also decilunours, centilunours and millilunours. The calendar starts with the moment Neil Armstrong made his first step on the Moon.
  • The Moon is actually owned

© Wikimedia

As we mentioned, the United Nations Outer Space Treaty clearly indicates that the Moon is the property of humankind as a whole. Meaning no nation can claim it as their own. In the early 80s, desperate American, Dennis M. Hope took the verbiage of the treaty to say that the Moon was unowned land and needing money. Hope filed a claim of ownership with the UN. When he received no response, he proceeded to subdivide and sell the property to whoever was willing to pay the cost.

Hope made so much from his scheme that in 1995, he was able to quit his job and turn to galactic real estate. Along with the Moon, Hope also claimed acreage on Mars, Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter’s moon, Io. Thinking long-term, Hope formed the democratic republic of the “Galactic Government”. Also, he spent three years writing a constitution to protect his property from the inevitable intervention of much larger nations.
  • Our Moon is the fifth-largest natural satellite in the solar system

Moon compared to other moons of solar system
Our Moon compared to other moons of solar system

Compared to Earth, the Moon’s diameter is almost 8,000 kilometres or about 5,000 miles smaller. But it looks quite a bit bigger when compared against some of the other natural satellites. In the solar system, the Moon is exceptionally much larger relative to its planet, about 1/4th of the Earth's diameter.

At 3,472 kilometres or 2,158 miles in diameter, the Moon is the 5th largest natural satellite. Over 258 miles or 415 kilometres larger than the next largest satellite, Jupiter’s Europa. Beating out our Moon in size are Ganymede, Callisto, and Io of Jupiter and Saturn’s moon Titan. With the 60% of Earth's density which is 3.34 g/cm3, it is the second densest moon. Only after Jupiter's moon Io which has a density of 3.53 per cubic centimetre
  • Moon could meet our energy demands for upwards of 10,000 years

Helium 3 and Helium 4

How we are going to sustain life on Earth is a question of concern as we continue to burn through fossil fuels. But the answer may be only 238,900 miles or about 384,500 kilometres away. The substance is Helium-3, a non-radioactive helium isotope that is rare on Earth but is found in abundance on our satellite. It’s sporadic and expensive that currently Helium 3 is sold for about $1,000 per gram.

Helium-3 has turned into a sought after material that countries like China are setting its sights on. According to Professor Ouyang Ziyuan of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, the Moon’s supply of Helium-3 could meet our energy demands for upwards of 10,000 years. But there is a treaty from 1967, the United Nations Outer Space Treaty proposes that the Moon’s resources are for humankind and not one nation.
  • The Moon is moving away from earth.

Moon follows an elliptical orbit
Moon follows an elliptical orbit

Of course, we know that the Moon follows an elliptical orbit and is at varying distances based on this orbit. But the average distance between Earth and its satellite is changing at a rate of 1.48 inches or about 3.78 centimetres per year. In about 50 million years later, the Moon will stop moving away from us. It will stable into an orbit and will take 47 days to orbit the earth.

As the Moon affects our tides, the increased distance can alter life on our homeworld. Days can slow down to longer than 24 hours, and seasonal differences across the globe can be far more drastic. The one upside to this is that any drastic changes will take billions of years.
  • There is actually far side of the Moon not the dark

Far side of the moon
The far side of the moon

No matter how you look at it, there is an entire side of the Moon that we will never see from Earth. Due to the slower rotation of the Moon, the same half, or the “near side,” is stuck facing us. This was not always the case. As millions of years ago, the Moon had a faster rotation, until Earth’s gravitational influence caught up to it and slowed it down.

With all of that said, let's clear up one thing - there technically isn’t a “dark side” of the moon. Even though we don’t see it from our position, the Moon’s “far side” still receives plenty of light. In fact, the surface tends to be a lighter colour and rugged cratered highland landscape.
  • Flags on the moon are bleached in white

Bleached white American flag
The bleached white American flag

There were 6 American flags planted on the moon from which 5 were still standing. One of those flags were blasted off by the exhaust from the engine when Apollo 11 liftoff.

Remaining five flags are bleached in white from the red and blue due to an extreme UX environment on the moon because the flags are made of nylon and they are not made to tolerate the extreme conditions of the moon.
  • Birth of the Moon is still a mystery

The collision between earth and a Mars-sized body called Theia
The collision between earth and a Mars-sized body called Theia

About 4.5 billion years ago, our moon was formed, almost 20 to 100 million years after the solar system formed. But the formation of the moon is still a debate. Some theory suggests that the moon is captured in by Earth's gravity or
Earth is spinning so fast in its childhood that it ejected its own mantle into space to form the moon.

The most accepted theory is the Giant Impact Hypothesis. This theory states that a Mars-sized astronomical body called Theia collided with the young earth. Due to this enormous impact, the various parts of the planet's crust spread into space. After that, the emitted particles gathered due to gravity and the Moon was formed. Now You'd expect that the moon would also include bits of Theia, but it is not. The mantles of both bodies are nearly identical; This makes it little harder to understand.
  • Your weight on the Moon

If a person with a weight of 100 kgs on earth it will found himself only 16.6 kgs on the moon because the gravity of the moon is 83.30% lesser then the earth's gravity.

The size of the Moon is 1/4th of the earth it means that 4 moons are fit in the earth. With a mass of 1/80th of the earth that is why the moon's gravity is much less than the Earth gravity.
  • The first man to PEE on the Moon

Buzz Aldrin emptying his urine bag

Everyone knows that Neil Armstrong is the first person to walk on the moon. But you know who the first person to pee on the moon? It is Buzz Aldrin: The second man to walk and the first man to urinate on the surface of the moon.

He actually didn't urinate on the moon. Forty-two years ago astronaut didn't have suitable absorbent garments as they have now. When Aldrin reached the moon, his urine bag was full. So before climbing the Eagle ladder of Apollo 11, he carried his urine bag and emptied it in front of millions of TV viewers and become the first person to PEE on the Moon. When asked about the incident, Buzz said, "Everyone has their firsts on the moon, and that one hasn't been disputed by anybody."
  • Water ice is found on the moon

the distribution of surface ice at the Moon's south pole (left) and north pole (right)

The water is located in craters which are near the poles of the Moon. Since at this location the Sun angle is always very low. So, sunlight never directly hits the bottom of the craters and the temperatures in these regions never rise above -163°C. For this reason, these locations are called "cold traps".

The team used data from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper or M3. M3 is a NASA-built instrument that hitched a ride on India's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. Chandrayaan-1 launched to the Moon in 2008 and observed the Moon for about a year. Still, that was enough time for M3 to sample the entire lunar surface, including the polar regions. More interestingly, this water is used to make rocket fuel! That means that our nearest celestial neighbour can serve as a fuel depot for potential human expansion into the solar system.

How about these Moon Facts?

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