It may not be one of the most tangible facts about the moon but it’s certainly true that it is an endless source of fascination for us. Many travelers dream of shooting off into outer space to visit The Moon and indeed, every year there is a news story about the idea of tourist trips. The question of life out there also intrigues us, but just what are some of the facts about the moon?
The most obvious facts about the moon to start with is to understand what it actually is. The moon is not a planet. It is a moon because it orbits the Earth and therefore is a satellite, not a planet. In order to be a planet, it would have to orbit the sun.
The moon is about one-fourth the size of the Earth, which, as moons go, is pretty large. It is the 5th largest moon in our solar system. The circumference of the moon is 6,786 miles (10,921 kms), compared to Earth’s 24,902 miles (40,075 kms). In terms of surface area, 14.6 million square miles (37.9 million sq kms), it’s about the same size as Russia, Canada and the USA combined.
Well it certainly isn’t green cheese! Despite the hugely popular myth, one of the undeniable facts about the moon is that cheese does not, in any way, make up the composition of the moon. Basically, the moon is made of rock – much like Earth. It also has the same kind of structure as the Earth in that it has a core, mantle and crust. The surface layer of soil is made up of 42% oxygen, 21% silicon, 13% iron, 8% calcium, 7% aluminum, 6% magnesium and 3% other elements.
This is actually one of the facts about the moon that is subject to debate. On Earth we measure the height of mountains as the distance up from sea level. As there is no water on the moon, the same methods cannot be applied. Whatever method is used, most scientists concur that the highest mountains are above 5,000 meters (16,000 feet). Generally, Mons Huygens is considered the highest mountain on the moon.
From Earth, only about 59% of the moon is visible to us. Surely, though, because the Earth rotates on an axis, theoretically so does the moon, and therefore, we should be able to see the whole moon. The moon used to spin at a much faster rate than it does now, but millions of years ago and over many millennia, the gravitational influence of the Earth slowed its rotation down to the ~29.5 days we know now. So, while we refer to the dark side of the moon, there is actually no part of the moon that never receives daylight. As it is always rotating, it has day and night just like the Earth. The only time the far side of the moon is devoid of sunlight is during a Full Moon, which occurs when the sun is facing the moon with the Earth in between.
But! They are not seas of water. Despite man’s search for water on the moon, none has yet been found. The seas are actually massive lava plains created by the impact of huge meteors. They were named ‘seas’ (mare in Latin) by early astronomers as that is what they appeared to be through their rudimentary telescopes. These basalt plains cover about 16% of the moon’s surface, and interestingly, most of them are on the side of the moon visible from Earth. Oceanus Procellarum is the largest sea on the moon, covering 1.54 million square miles (4 million square kilometers).
Wrong! This is another fact about the moon that is misunderstood. There is indeed gravity on the moon; it’s just that it is about 17% of the gravitational force of the Earth. How does this translate? If you weigh 100lbs (45 kg) on Earth, you would weigh just 17lbs (7.6 kg) on the moon. It also means, if you can jump 10 foot on earth, you’d reach a height of 60 feet with a jump on the moon.
So, there you have it. Some facts about the moon – the brightest celestial body seen from Earth other than the sun (and that’s because of its close distance). Do you think we’ll ever live on the moon? Would you pay millions of dollars for a tourist trip to the moon?
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