It hangs in the sky, it is a constant companion at night and we have even worshipped it as a god for thousands of years. We have set foot on it, we see a face in it and it still fascinates us in the 21st century. It is our moon and there are some amazing facts associated with it that many people may not realize. So, join us as we venture to our nearest celestial neighbor and talk a little bit about the amazing planetary body that orbits our little planet in this corner of the Milky Way.
1. Child of the Earth
The moon literally is a child of the planet Earth. Roughly 4.5 billion years ago, give or take an hour or two, a Mars-sized object smashed into our planet, destroying half of it and spewing a massive amount of material into space. This material, the bits that didn’t fall back down to our young planet, began orbiting the Earth and over millions of years formed themselves into the moon we know and love. The reason we know this now is because the moon dates to about the same age as the Earth, and the moon is not as dense as the Earth, nor does it have an iron core. This shows that the moon is made up of upper crust material, which has a low density.
2. Moving Away From Home
Like any child, the moon is slowly moving away from its parent over the space of millions of years. Each year, the moon drifts away by about four centimeters per year. This means that it is actually taking the moon longer to orbit us with each passing year. Back when the moon first formed, it was a mere 14,000 miles away from us, but these days it is 280,000 miles away. In about 50 billion years, the moon will actually stop moving away from the Earth and will settle in a nice orbit where it will take the moon 47 days to move around the Earth, or 20 days longer than it takes now. Only problem is that 45 billion years before that happens, or five billion years from now, the sun is going to consume the Earth and the moon when it expands into a red giant. So, for the time being it appears that the moon and the Earth are going to be nice and close to each other.
3. Only Showing One Side Of Itself
Dark Side of the Moon is a great Pink Floyd album, but it is also what we refer to the other side of the moon as. However, the truth is that the other side of the moon is not dark at all. Due to our point of view relative to the moon, it appears as though the moon only shows one side of itself to us all the time. The reason for this is that the Earth’s gravity, over a long period of time, slowed down the rotation of the moon enough so that it eventually stopped. This is quite common and has happened to other large moons in the solar system. As a result, only one side faces us, but the other side is often bathed in very hot rays form the sun. When we have a new moon, the other side of the moon is completely covered in light.
On that same note, by a truly amazing coincidence, the moon and the sun look to be exactly the same size in our sky. This is because the sun is 400 times larger than the moon, and 400 times farther away from the Earth than the moon. This is what creates our eclipses but because of the moon leaving us over time, the solar eclipse will eventually come to an end.
4. Pulling At The Earth
The moon has gravity, but not as much as the Earth has. That bit of gravity still affects the Earth though and we can see it every day by visiting areas where the tides happen. The moon and the sun too, both pull at the Earth and the oceans, literally pulling them high up and therefore, farther away from the coast. The moon and the sun even pull the crust of the Earth up as they move past. When the moon is overhead of you, you are moved a few meters higher than you were earlier. The only thing is that you do not notice because the distance is so small compared with the size of the Earth. So, how do the tides work?
When the moon is directly above our planet, we have high tide. On the other side of the planet, there is also a high tide because the Earth is pulled closer to the moon, and that moves the water.
When the moon is full, or we are at a new moon, then the sun, the moon and the Earth are all lined up. This creates tides that are higher than other tides because of the extra amount of gravitational force being inflicted upon the Earth at the time. The moon is also slowing our rotation due to its gravity, by 1.5 milliseconds every 100 years.
5. Moonquakes Happen Too!
Earthquakes happen every day, usually to the tune of dozens per day, most of which we never even feel. Well, the moon also has earthquakes, or well moonquakes. When Apollo astronauts landed on the moon they used seismometers that picked up small moonquakes happening in the moon. These moonquakes were happening several miles below the surface and are most likely caused by the gravitational pull of the Earth causing fractures in the moon and allowing gas to escape.
6. Light on Your Feet
If you want to feel light and are concerned about your weight, then the moon is the place to go. The moon has roughly 17 percent the gravity of the Earth. As a result, you will feel much lighter when you are on Earth. If you weigh 220 pounds on Earth, then on the moon you will weigh just over 37 pounds. On the moon you will be able to carry objects that are six times as heavy as well. So, if you can only carry 50 pounds right now, on the moon you can carry something that is 300 pounds. Also, you can jump six times as far as you do on Earth. In the future when there are moon bases, it will be possible to attach wings to yourself, jump in the air and literally fly around a dome under your own power.
Only 12 people have been able to experience this gravity so far on the moon. From 1969 to 1972, 12 people stepped on the moon as part of the Apollo missions. The first was Neil Armstrong and the last was Gene Cernan, who left the moon on December 14, 1972.
Author: Craig Baird — Copyrighted © roadtickle.com