Astronomy Cool Moon Facts

Discussion in 'Astronomy' started by JcMinJapan, Nov 7, 2004.

  1. JcMinJapan

    JcMinJapan Premium Member

    Great Moon Facts from http://www.space.com

    The Moon was created when a rock the size of Mars slammed into Earth, shortly after the solar system began forming about 4.5 billion years ago,

    Each year, the Moon steals some of Earth's rotational energy, and uses it to propel itself about 3.8 centimeters higher in its orbit. Researchers say that when it formed, the Moon was about 14,000 miles (22,530 kilometers) from Earth. It's now more than 280,000 miles, or 450,000 kilometers away.

    The Moon's gravity pulls on Earth's oceans. High tide aligns with the Moon as Earth spins underneath. Another high tide occurs on the opposite side of the planet because gravity pulls Earth toward the Moon more than it pulls the water. All this tugging has another interesting effect: Some of Earth's rotational energy is stolen by the Moon, causing our planet to slow down by about 1.5 milliseconds every century.

    Our Moon is bigger than Pluto. And at roughly one-fourth the diameter of Earth, some scientists think the Moon is more like a planet. They refer to the Earth-Moon system as a "double planet."

    Small moonquakes, originating several miles (kilometers) below the surface, are thought to be caused by the gravitational pull of Earth. Sometimes tiny fractures appear at the surface, and gas escapes. Scientists say they think the Moon probably has a core that is hot and perhaps partially molten, as is Earth's core. Probably between 2 percent and 4 percent of its mass. This is tiny compared with Earth, in which the iron core makes up about 30 percent of the planet's mass.

    The Moon is not round (or spherical). Instead, it's shaped like an egg. If you go outside and look up, one of the small ends is pointing right at you. And the Moon's center of mass is not at the geometric center of the satellite; it's about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) off-center.

    In 1999, scientists found that a 3-mile- (5-kilometer-) wide asteroid may be caught in Earth's gravitational grip, thereby becoming a satellite of our planet. Cruithne, as it is called, takes 770 years to complete a horseshoe-shaped orbit around Earth, the scientists say, and it will remain in a suspended state around Earth for at least 5,000 years.

    The Moon's heavily cratered surface is the result of intense pummeling by space rocks between 4.1 billion and 3.8 billion years ago.

    Perhaps the coolest thing about the Moon is that it always shows us the same face. Long ago, the Earth's gravitational effects slowed the Moon's rotation about its axis. Once the Moon's rotation slowed enough to match its orbital period (the time it takes the Moon to go around Earth) the effect stabilized. Many of the moons around other planets behave similarly. So there's no such thing as a "dark side of the Moon," just a side that we never see. As the Moon swings around on its orbit, a thin sliver of reflected sunlight is seen on Earth as a crescent Moon. Once the Moon is opposite the Sun, it becomes fully lit from our view -- a full Moon.
     
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  2. johnjean3943

    johnjean3943 New Member

    Thanks for this post!
     
  3. bodebliss

    bodebliss The Zoc-La of Kromm-B Premium Member

    Great post!