The Moon is gradually moving away from Earth: Interesting facts about Moon

March 4, 2024  22:12

The Moon may seem uninteresting, but it affects life on Earth in many ways, from the Moonlight to the tides it creates. It has also influenced human culture, reflected in mythology, and helped track time. Below we present some interesting facts about the Moon.

The Moon was probably formed by a giant impact

According to the most accepted explanation for the formation of the Moon, a planet the size of Mars collided with the Earth in its early stages, forming a cloud of debris that eventually coalesced to form the Moon. Evidence of this effect can be found in samples taken during the Apollo missions, which show that the Moon's composition has similarities and differences with Earth's geological composition.

The phases of the Moon depend on its position

The phases of the Moon are determined by where the Moon is in relation to the Earth and the Sun. If the Earth is directly between the Sun and the Moon, the side of the Moon facing the Earth is fully illuminated and we see a full Moon. But if the Moon is between the Earth and the Sun, then the illuminated side is facing away from us, and it is a new Moon, that is, we do not see the Moon at all. Between the new Moon and the full Moon, visible from Earth are different parts of the part of the Moon that the sun illuminates, creating the phases of the Moon.

The "dark" side of the Moon isn't really dark

Although we only see one side of the Moon, half of it is always illuminated by the Sun, and that's usually not the only part we can see (except during a full Moon). Therefore, the "dark" side of the Moon is only dark from our perspective on Earth. Instead, it's more accurate to call it the far side of the Moon, not the dark side.

The Moon creates and changes the tides

The main cause of tides on Earth is the effect of the Moon's gravity. This gravity creates two bulges in Earth's oceans that represent the tides, one on the side of the ocean closest to the Moon and one on the opposite side.

The Moon is gradually moving away from the Earth

The Moon is also influenced by the planet Earth and this influence releases energy, causing the Moon to slowly move away from the Earth even as it was still forming. The Moon continues to move away from Earth at a rate of about 1.5 inches (4 centimeters) per year. While not much, it would cause the Moon to move significantly further away from Earth over millions of years.

"Moon shocks" occur on the Moon

Many people probably imagine the Moon to be cold, dead, and mostly they are right. However, it is not entirely like that. Just as areas of our planet are shaken by earthquakes, so too are "Moonquakes" on the Moon, although they are usually weaker and longer lasting than those on Earth. Lunar shocks can be caused by several factors, including meteor impacts, temperature changes, Earth's gravity, and the Moon's external structural properties.

The Moon's appearance can be affected by Earth's light

On a clear night, you may notice that even though only part of the Moon is illuminated, you can also see a dimly lit region of the rest of the Moon. It is due to the light emitted from the Earth. Just as the Moon reflects light from the Sun, the Earth reflects some of the light from the Sun.

The Moon has a unique smell

The Moon has no atmosphere and therefore no air. However, the astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission were surprised to discover that the Moon had an odor that clung to their spacesuits, equipment, and the lunar samples they collected. Astronauts on this mission said the smell was similar to the smell of metal, burnt gunpowder or the smell of the air after a detonator has been fired. The smell is probably caused by a chemical reaction between Moon dust and oxygen in the air. However, lunar samples do not smell on Earth, so it must have been caused by a temporary reaction. 

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