12 Fascinating & Fun Science Facts about The Moon
How much do you know about the Moon? Test your knowledge with these fascinating facts.
- The Moon is Earth’s only natural satellite. It orbits the Earth every 27 days, 7 hours, 43 minutes, and 11.6 seconds in a slightly squashed circle shape called an ellipse. It travels 1,423,000 miles around Earth at a speed of 2,288 mph. It is slowest when it is furthest from Earth and fastest when closest to Earth.
- With a diameter of 2,159 miles and 3,476 km, the Moon is a quarter of the size of Earth and the fifth largest moon in the solar system.
- The Moon is 238, 857 miles from Earth. It would take 130 days to travel to it by car, 13 hours by rocket, and 1.52 seconds by light speed.
- The Moon’s surface has a large number of craters. These are from comets and asteroids colliding with its surface billions of years ago. The dark areas on the Moon’s surface are lava seas caused by hardened lava. The Moon also has many mountains, Mons Huygens being the tallest at 4700m tall.
- The Moon has a thin atmosphere so has no weather or protection from the sun. This causes massive temperature extremes. It is very hot in the day and very cold at night. Its average surface temperature ranges from 123℃ in the day and -153℃ at night. Its thin atmosphere also means you can still see damage (like comets & asteroids) caused billions of years ago and it will not erode.
- The Moon has a weak gravity which is a sixth of Earth’s. This means that if you weighed 100 kg on Earth you’d weigh 17 kg on the Moon and you could jump 6x higher and carry objects 6x heavier.
- Earth’s tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon. At full and new moons, the Sun and Moon’s gravitational pull combine to produce highest tides. At a quarter moon, the gravitational forces of the Sun and Moon oppose to produce the lowest tides.
- We only ever see the same side of the Moon. This is because the Moon rotates on its axis in around the same amount of time as it takes to orbit the Earth. As a result, we only see approximately 60% of its surface at a time and never see the dark or far side of the moon.
- The moon appears to change shape, however, this is simply the sun lighting up different parts of its surface and reflecting back to Earth. These different shapes are called phases and are as follows - new moon, crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, last quarter, crescent, and new moon again. The cycle from new moon to new moon is known as a lunar month, and it takes 29.5 days to complete.
- A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is in between the Sun and Moon and the Earth, Sun, and Moon are aligned. The Moon passes directly behind the Earth and into its shadow, causing the Earth to completely block direct sunlight from reaching the Moon.
- The Moon is 4.5 billion years old. Scientists believe that a rock as large as Mars named Theia crashed into the Earth and debris from the collision melted together and cooled down to create the Moon.
- The Soviet Union Luna program was the first successful landing of an unmanned spacecraft on the Moon in 1966. In 1969, the USA NASA Apollo 11 mission was the first manned moon landing. The first person to set foot on the moon was Neil Armstrong who said the famous words ‘one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’, and his footprints will remain on the Moon for at least 10 million years because there is no erosion on the Moon.
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