The Wonders of the Moon

The wonders of the moon are apparent to lovers when it is full. It seems as if the night is more romantic when it is seen up the sky in its splendor.
The Moon is Earth’s only natural satellite. At about one-quarter the diameter of the earth, it is the largest natural satellite in the Solar System relative to the size of its planet, the fifth largest satellite in the Solar System overall, and is larger than any known dwarf planet. Orbiting Earth at an average distance of 238,900 miles, or about 30 times Earth’s diameter, its gravitational influence slightly lengthens Earth’s day and is the main driver of Earth’s tides. The Moon is classified as a planetary-mass object and a differentiated rocky body, and lacks any significant atmosphere, hydrosphere, or magnetic field. Its surface gravity is about one-sixth of Earth’s (0.1654 g); Jupiter’s moon Io is the only satellite in the Solar System known to have a higher surface gravity and density.

Jupiter’s Moon Io

The Moon’s orbit around Earth has a sidereal period of 27.3 days. During each synodic period of 29.5 days, the amount of visible surface illuminated by the Sun varies from none up to 100%, resulting in lunar phases that form the basis for the months of a lunar calendar. The Moon is tidally locked to Earth, which means that the length of a full rotation of the Moon on its own axis causes its same side (the near side) to always face Earth, and the somewhat longer lunar day is the same as the synodic period. That said, 59% of the total lunar surface can be seen from Earth through shifts in perspective due to libration.

The most widely accepted origin explanation posits that the Moon formed about 4.51 billion years ago, not long after Earth, out of the debris from a giant impact between the planet and a hypothesized Mars-sized body called Theia. It then receded to a wider orbit because of tidal interaction with the Earth. The near side of the Moon is marked by dark volcanic maria (“seas”), which fill the spaces between bright ancient crustal highlands and prominent impact craters. Most of the large impact basins and mare surfaces were in place by the end of the Imbrian period, some three billion years ago. The lunar surface is relatively non-reflective, with a reflectance just slightly brighter than that of worn asphalt. However, because it has a large angular diameter, the full moon is the brightest celestial object in the night sky. The Moon’s apparent size is nearly the same as that of the Sun, allowing it to cover the Sun almost completely during a total solar eclipse.

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Wonders of the Moon Facts

The Moon is Earth’s only natural satellite and the fifth largest moon in the solar system.

The Moon’s presence helps stabilize our planet’s wobble and moderate our climate.

The Moon has a very thin atmosphere called an exosphere.

The Moon’s surface is cratered and pitted from comet and asteroid impacts.

Earth’s Moon is the only place beyond Earth where humans have set foot.

The brightest and largest object in our night sky, the Moon makes Earth a more livable planet by moderating our home planet’s wobble on its axis, leading to a relatively stable climate.

One of the wonders of the moon is that it also causes tides, creating a rhythm that has guided humans for thousands of years.

Earth’s Moon is the fifth largest of the 200+ moons orbiting planets in our solar system.
Earth’s only natural satellite is simply called “the Moon” because people didn’t know other moons existed until Galileo Galilei discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter in 1610.

If you set a single green pea next to a U.S. nickel, you’d have a pretty good idea of the size of the Moon compared to Earth.

Another wonders of the moon fact is that the Earth and Moon are tidally locked. Their rotations are so in sync we only see one side of the Moon. Humans didn’t see the lunar far side until a Soviet spacecraft flew past in 1959.

The Moon has a solid, rocky surface cratered and pitted from impacts by asteroids, meteorites, and comets.

The Moon has a very thin and tenuous atmosphere called an exosphere. It is not breathable.

The Moon has no moons.

The Moon has no rings.

More than 105 robotic spacecraft have been launched to explore the Moon. It is the only celestial body beyond Earth – so far – visited by human beings.

The Moon’s weak atmosphere and its lack of liquid water cannot support life as we know it.

Apollo astronauts brought back a total of 842 pounds (382 kilograms) of lunar rocks and soil to Earth. We are still studying them.