The moon is an astronomical body that brightens dark nights and decorates our skies. Everyone, even a child, can point out and show the moon. It is something hard to miss in our magnificent skies.
Throughout centuries the moon was a crucial tool for humans to perform their daily activities and conduct their religious rituals. What else we know about the moon?
Facts about the Moon: General Information
1. The Moon is neither a star nor a planet, it is earth’s natural satellite.
why is the moon neither a planet nor a star? Because its mass size is too small and gravitational force is not enough to be qualified as such.
Planets orbit around stars like the earth orbits around the sun. Natural satellites, also known as moons, orbits around planets in a way the moon orbits the earth.
2. In the past, people thought “the moon” is the only moon in the sky.
Yes, you got me right. There are so many moons in the Universe.
In 1610, the first time Galileo Galilei discovered 4 moons around Jupiter. Therefore, Jupiter’s four largest satellites, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto were called Galilean moons.
In our modern times, hundreds of new moons were discovered with the help of developed technologies.
3. The moon is the 5th largest moon in our solar system.
As I already mentioned, there are hundreds of moons in our solar system.
After Jupiter’s three giants, Ganymede, Callisto, and Io, and after the Saturn’s Titan, the moon ranks 5th in size in our solar system.
4. The moon is the only natural satellite of the earth.
Unlike Jupiter (67 moons) and Saturn (62 moons), the earth got only one moon.
However, we are so lucky to have it for so many good reasons. Mercury and Venus do not have any.
5. The moon has thousands of craters on its surface.
All of those moon craters are observable. We can observe only 180 craters on earth, although our earth, too, had been hit many times.
The natural process on earth covers traces of most craters. But on the moon, every scar of an impact freezes in time and stays visible.
6. The moon causes waves in the world oceans.
Ocean waves caused by the gravitational pull from the moon and the sun are called tidal waves. Mostly, these waves are mistaken for tsunamis.
Tsunamis and tidal waves are not the same. Tsunamis are caused by ocean earthquakes, where tidal waves are caused by the gravitational forces between earth, the moon, and the sun.
7. Mons Handley is the tallest mountain on the moon.
It is about 15,093 ft (4,600) tall. The mountain is a part of the Montes Apenninus mountain chain. It was named after the famous inventor, Mons Handley. As a result of the Apollo mission, we have a picture of the Mons Handley mountain.
8. A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth gets between the moon and the sun.
Every year, people on earth witness anywhere 2-4 lunar eclipses.
9. The moon phases reflect the transition process of a day and night on the moon.
A day on the moon lasts about 29.5 days. So, it is a slow movement. When you look at the moon, you can actually see the transition of a day and night in its slow motion.
It is daytime on the moon’s bright portion and it is nighttime in its dark part portion, or in an invisible part of the moon.
10. Moon has a lemon shape due to the gravitational pull from the earth.
When the moon is full, it looks like a perfectly round.
But the actual shape of the moon looks like a lemon because of the constant gravitational pull caused by the earth.
11. The moon rotates in a way that the same side of the moon always facing the earth.
This leaves the dark side, or the far side, of the moon in a mystery. We refer to it as a dark side of the moon, not because of the absence of light there, but because we can’t see that part of the moon from the earth.
On October 7, 1959, the Soviet probe called Luna 3 was the first spacecraft that took the pictures of the far side of the moon.
12. The surface of the moon is 16 times smaller than the surface of the earth.
The moon’s radius is 1,079.6 miles (1,737.5 km).
According to NASA, “If the earth were the size of a nickel, the moon would be about as big as a coffee bean”
13. The moon is moving away from earth
The moon is getting farther from the earth at a rate of about 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) per year.
It happens because of ocean tides caused by the moon’s gravitational force.
14. The moon has an atmosphere.
You may find this information surprising, but you have a reason to do so. Because, until recently, it was accepted that the moon does not have an atmosphere.
With the discovery of ice deposits and water molecules on the moon, previous textbook knowledge has been somewhat refuted.
Scientists now theorize that the moon has a limited atmosphere which consists of gases such as sodium and potassium.
15. The water particles were discovered on the moon.
According to NASA, water molecules were found scattered across the moon. And, those particles are present during the daytime and nighttime.
However, scientists still need to do research in order to find evidence whether the water source on the moon is easily accessible to convert it into the drinkable water or the oxygen.
16. The weather on the moon is extremely hot during days and extremely cold during nights.
The temperature during the day is 224 Fahrenheit (106 degrees Celsius), and during the night it reaches to – (minus) 298 degrees Fahrenheit (-183 degrees Celsius).
It is because, unlike earth, the moon does not have a sufficient atmosphere that is able to protect it from the sun’s harsh rays during the day and trap all that heat during the night.
17. Magma oceans covered the moon over 3.5 billion years ago.
So, if you travel 3.5 billion years back in time, you will see the different-looking moon in the sky.
Scientists note that volcanic activities released enough gas to create an atmosphere on the moon.
However, a huge portion of that gas leaked away in a duration of 70 million years, leaving the tiny bit of atmosphere on the moon.
18. The moon is the brightest object in the night sky.
Almost all of us know that. But did you know that the second brightest object on our night sky is Venus?
Venus is about two thousand times less bright than the full moon.
Facts about the Moon: Interesting Information
19. Moonquakes rattle the moon in every 27 days.
Based on the data received from the Apollo missions, scientists discovered that there are moonquakes about 497 to 746 miles (8000 to 1200 km) beneath the lunar surface.
Those quakes appear roughly every 27 days. Although the causes of moonquakes are still under debate, some scientists suspect the tidal stress.
20. A person who weighs 150lbs on earth will weigh about 25 pounds on the moon.
Things are lighter on the lunar surface because of low gravity.
If you want to know how much would you weigh on the moon, use this handy calculator.
21. Footprints left on the moon will last millions of years.
This is one of the interesting facts about the moon. The footprints left by the moonwalkers will not disappear.
Because the moon does not have wind or a significant atmosphere that may possibly distort or cover those footprints.
22. If there were a highway straight to the moon, you would get there in about 142 days or in 4.7 months by driving.
I did the calculations based on the 70 m/ph speed.
The distance of the moon from the earth is 238,855 miles (384,400 km).
23. The duration of a day on the moon equals to 655.72 hours or 27.32 earth days.
In other words, one day on the moon is almost equivalent to one month on earth.
The moon takes either 27.3 days or 29.5 days to revolve around the earth.
24. Moondust smells like “ burnt gunpowder” and feels soft like “snow”
Astronauts could smell, feel, and even taste the moon dust. Of course, they could not do it on the lunar surface.
When they got back inside the lander, moon dust also come inside the cabin, sticking to their suits and boots.
The crew tried to brush off the dust before the re-entry, however stubbornly sticky dust was not removed completely.
25. The American flags posted on the moon probably turned into ashes because of the sun’s harsh ultraviolet rays.
Some people are still interested in the fate of the American flags that were posted on the moon by the astronauts.
Scientists suggest that the moon’s harsh environment will not allow nylon flags to stay in its intact condition, at least not for that long.
26. If the earth did not have the moon, a day would last only 6 to 12 hours, and a year would last over 1000 (one thousand) days.
Thanks to the gravitational pull from the moon, the rotation of the earth is much slower.
Short days would not be good, not because it would prevent us from sleeping longer hours, but because it would have a catastrophic effect on every living thing on earth.
Fact About the Moon: Explorations
27. The first spacecraft to reach the moon was the Soviet’s Luna 1
Originally, it was designed to crash on the moon.
However, due to the dysfunction in its ground control system, it missed the moon about 3,7255 miles (5,995 km). It still helped to gather valuable data.
28. Neil Armstrong was the first person to step on the moon.
I am quite sure you heard about this event. Because it is one of the highly celebrated accomplishments in American history.
On July 24, 1969, two crew members of the Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, landed on the lunar surface while the third crew member, Michael Collins piloted the command module.
29. Apollo 17 was the last manned mission that landed on the moon.
The mission lasted 12.6 days, and the time spent on the surface was 75 hours.
Unlike previous Apollo missions, Apollo 17 mission used rovers to cut the travel time on the lunar surface.
The commander of Apollo 17, Eugene Cernan, was the last person to step on the moon since 1972.
30. 12 people walked on the moon.
All of them were Americans. We already know that the first person to walk on the moon was Neil Armstrong, and the last one was Eugene Cernan.
Here is the breakdown of the numbers by missions:
Apollo 11 – 2 people, Apollo 12 – 2 people; Apollo 13 – 0 (had problem with oxygen tank); Apollo 14- 2 people; Apollo 15- 2 people; Apollo 16 – 2 people; Apollo 17 – 2 people.
Facts about the moon: Historical Significance
31. Early humans used the moon to calculate time and seasons.
Lunar calendars were unearthed from the 3200-year-old archeological sites.
Found artifacts, such as reindeer bones and mammoth tusks, showed engravings that depict the lunar phases and days.
32. Ancient Egyptians have a moon god called Khonsu.
Khonsu means “traveler”. The reason behind such a name is probably the constant movement of the moon.
In fact, almost all of the major civilizations in the past had their own moon gods.
For instance, Greek mythology mentions several moon goods: Achelois, Selena, Phoebe, Artemis
33. 12 National Flags feature the image of the crescent moon.
Due to the historical significance, crescent moons are featured in the national flags of Algeria, Azerbaijan, Comoros, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
34. In ancient mythologies, the moon was associated with goodness and death.
For instance, the Maori people of New Zealand referred to the moon as “man-eater”.
Contrary to that, in Greek mythology, Selena was the moon goddess of goodness.
Facts about the Moon: Lunar effect on animals.
35. The number of injured cats and dogs increase during a full moon.
This is a strange event that scientists can’t find the exact explanation.
It is noted that there is a 23 % increase for cats and a 28 % increase for dogs visiting to vet emergency rooms when the moon is fuller.
One logical reasoning suggests that the injuries are associated with brighter nights where dogs and cats can spend a long time outside.
36. The lions are more aggressive towards humans during a day after a full moon.
A full moon is sometimes associated with horror stories like bio-wolf. We knew those stories were fictional. However, the study on lion behavior suggests that a full moon actually has an impact on lions.
After an unsuccessful night of hunting under the bright moon, lions need to compensate for their energy.
So, the next day hungry lions more likely to attack humans during the daytime.
37. Moonlight makes scorpions glow in bluish-green color.
Scientists are still in a quest to solve the mystery of glowing scorpions.
However, the purpose of glow still remains unclear. One suggestion tells that scorpions prefer to avoid any UV lights including the moonlight.
So, whenever they are exposed to the light, their body glows as a detector, letting them know that it is not a good time to come out.
38. Moon can impact on fish capture.
The study notes that “Moon and tide effect on fish capture in a tropical tidal flat”
39. Some birds are more active during a full moon.
Although some of the nocturnal birds, such as northern Saw-whet owls and petrels, remain in their nests during a full moon in order to protect themselves from predators, some birds are more active under a clear moonlight.
For instance, streaked shearwaters take advantage of the increased light. They fly longer hours and land on the water quite often during a full moon.
40. Some migrating birds use the moon to navigate their path.
We know for a fact that ancient sailors and explorers used stars and the moon to navigate their way but birds using the moon as navigation is something new.
I hope you liked these facts about the moon. If you did, please share them on social media.