The Moon – a celestial body that has given birth to numerous conspiracy theories and sparked the imaginations of millions of people around the globe. From childhood fairy tales to incredibly difficult scientific journals, this celestial body is almost everywhere. So, it is high time that we learn a few incredible facts about this object through this article titled 20 interesting Moon facts. You ready?
Interesting Moon Facts: 1-10
1. Moon has virtually no atmosphere. Absence of atmosphere means:
- Sky always appears black from Moon’s surface.
- Temperature variations are extremely high on Moon.
- Meteorites and solar winds get free passage to Moon’s surface.
- Harmful cosmic rays easily make their way to Moon’s surface.
2. There is nothing called dark side of Moon. All sides of Moon get equal amount of sunlight. The concept of dark side of Moon came up because we can only see one side of Moon. This happens because the Moon takes exactly 27.3 days to complete one revolution around Earth and exactly 27.3 days to complete one rotation on its own axis. Because of this, only one side of Moon is visible to us. The only way to see the other side of the Moon is to see it from a spacecraft.
3. Moon experiences what is known as lunar or Moonquakes. On Earth we call it Earthquake. Moonquakes are caused by gravitational tug of Earth. Astronauts who landed on Moon used seismographs to record Moon quakes several kilometers underneath the Moon’s surface.
4. Moon is drifting away from Earth at a speed of 3.8 centimeters per year. Scientists have somehow calculated that this drift will continue for next 50 billion years at the end of which, the Moon will be far enough and will be orbiting the Earth in 47 days as opposed to 27.3 days as of today.
5. Moon too exerts a gravitational tug on Earth. Because of the gravitational attraction of Moon, the water in Earth’s oceans accelerate towards the Moon and causes the water to bulge. The Moon revolves or orbits around Earth and Earth rotates on its own axis. As a result of these two motions, the water bulge also moves. High tide is referred to areas where water bulges out and the other areas are low tide areas.
6. Water on Earth facing the Moon bulges out but what happens to the water on the opposite side of the Earth, i.e. the water that is not facing the Moon? The water on the opposite side also bulges out because of a force known as centrifugal force. Centrifugal force is a force that acts opposite to the gravitational pull between Moon and Earth and keeps the two celestial bodies apart.
7. The Moon is almost as old as the Earth and the Sun. It was formed shortly after the Earth was formed some 4.5 billion years ago. There are many theories about how the Moon was formed but the most widely accepted theory is that shortly after the formation of Earth, a Mars-sized collided with Earth, throwing a cloud of vaporized rock (part of Earth and other objects) out into space, which then condensed and formed Moon. The vaporized rock cloud could not escape out into open space because of Earth’s gravitational pull.
8. The Moon is only 27% the total size of Earth and its gravitational pull is only 1/6th that of Earth. This is why a person who weighs 150 pounds on Earth weighs only 25 pounds on Moon.
9. Moon follows an oval orbit around Earth. The closest distance between Earth’s center and Moon’s center is 225,740 miles and the farthest distance is 251,970 miles.
10. Like Earth, the Moon too had a very violent childhood. Both Earth and Moon went through what is known as Late Heavy Bombardment some 4 billion years ago (that is 0.5 billion years after they were formed). These bombardments by asteroids left scars on Moon in form of craters.
Interesting Moon Facts: 11-20
11. Moon actually retained the craters that were formed by Late Heavy Bombardment. Since there is no atmosphere, nothing weathered out the craters. On top of that, Moon is geologically pretty inactive, which further helped the moon to retain its craters.
12. The first ever spacecraft to reach moon was a Soviet spacecraft named Luna 1. This spacecraft did not really land on moon. It rather passed with 5995 km of lunar surface and then headed for orbiting the sun.
13. The next one was Luna 2 that actually landed on Moon. Luna 3 photographed the far side of the Moon in 1959. A number of other Luna series spacecrafts were sent to Moon by USSR. Of these, Luna 16, Luna 20 and Luna 24 actually brought back samples of soil and rocks from lunar surface.
14. America wasn’t far behind. The Apollo program was designed by NASA. America is the only country to have successfully completed a manned mission to Moon. Neil Armstrong was the first man in world and in America to step on the surface of Moon and walk on the lunar surface. He landed on moon on July 21, 1969 at 02:56 UTC.
15. The foot mark of Neil Armstrong still exists on the dust on lunar surface and will continue to exist unless it is destroyed by the landing or takeoff by a spacecraft. This is because, there’s no wind on moon and hence, nothing is going to blow off that footprint. The only other thing that can destroy the footprint is an asteroid impact.
16. In 1988 a survey was conducted. 13% of the total people surveyed actually believed that Moon was made of cheese.
17. February is the only month in which a full moon may not show up. However, there will be two full moons either in January or in March. The second full moon in a month is known as the blue moon.
18. Moon is actually bigger than Pluto and is 1/4th the diameter of Earth. Because of its enormous size, some scientists sometimes consider calling it a planet but it is actually a satellite. Moon has a surface area of 14,658,000 square miles.
19. As far as the internal structure of the Moon is concerned, scientists have figured out that it has a core, a mantle and a crust. The core is solid and is iron rich. This part of the core covers a radius of 250 km. Surrounding the solid core is a fluid outer core with a radius of nearly 300 km. Floating on the molten outer core is a partially molter boundary which extends up to a radius of 500 km. On top of this partially molten boundary is the mantle and on top of it is the crust.
20. Moon is the 5th largest natural satellite in Solar System and lacks a global dipolar magnetic field. NASA is planning on installing a permanent space station on Moon in 2019.
Did you know that during 1950s USA actually planned of detonating a nuclear bomb on lunar surface? It was during the height of the Cold War when this mission known as “Project Horizon” was planned. The actual motive was to build a manned military outpost on Moon and use it as a bombing system that would target the rivals on Earth. The mission was actually planned by US Air Force but the mission was considered to be too perilous to be carried out and hence, it was discarded completely.
Did you know that scientists hypothesize that water ice may be present on lunar surface in areas that are in permanent shadow. In fact, there are some craters located at the poles of Moon which are in permanent shadow.