The Moon

October 19, 2004

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Moon
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Are you ready for more information? Let's start with the Facts....
 

Distance

 


Earth and Moon from Space
The moon, the only natural satellite orbiting Earth, is the Earth's closest neighbor in space. This cold, rocky body is about 384,403 kilometers (238, 857 miles) away. Traveling there is like going around the earth 10 times.

Here is a current view of the Moon from Earth.
 

Size
     The moon is 3476 kilometers (2,160 miles) in diameter. It is 1/4 the size of the earth. It is about 400 times smaller than the sun, and 400 times closer. Because of this, the sun and moon appear to be the same size.
                                       Here is a view of Earth from the Moon
Age
Material

     The moon is very old!!!

      Scientists believe that about 4.5 billion years ago a Mars-sized body hit Earth and the resulting debris (from both Earth and the impacting body) accumulated to form the Moon. Scientists know this because they studied the lunar rocks that were collected by astronauts who went to the moon. The moon and the earth are made of the same material. It has a small iron core.
Read More...  


Temperature
     The daily maximum temperature is 250° F (hot enough to boil water). At night the temperature minimum reaches -250° F.
 

Atmosphere
On the Moon
The Moon has no atmosphere so the lunar sky is black. You need atmosphere to make the sky blue. You must carry your own air for breathing.
                       Photos of the moon from Space
           Funny stuff:  Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon?
                    The food is terrific, but there's no atmosphere.   
Gravity
     I f you weigh 60 lbs on earth, you would weigh 10 lbs on the moon because gravity is 1/6th as strong. Find out how much you would weigh on the moon.
 

Magnetic Field
     There is no magnetic field on the moon.
 

Water
     Ice exists in some deep craters near the Moon's south pole which are permanently shaded. This was confirmed by Lunar Prospector. There is probably ice at the north pole as well.
Read more...
 

Really really cool photos of the moon were taken by space orbiters and astronauts. Be sure to take a look. Click on the picture to see a larger image.

More great photos
 
Compare the Earth and the Moon Fact Sheet.


   
Other Inspiring Information
The same side of the moon always faces earth so, you can only see one side.
See the photo astronauts took of the far side...

The moon orbits, or revolves, around the Earth about once every 27 days, 7 hours, 43 minutes. This movement causes the moon to cycle through a series of phases: New, New Crescent, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous, Full, Waning Gibbous, Last Quarter, Old Crescent and back to New again.Moon and Craters

Ask Dr Marc: How long does each phase of the moon last?
Check out these sites: Phases from Starchild or
Phases of the Moon

The moon has no light of its own. It shines because sunlight is reflected from its surface.
What is "moonrise?" The Earth rotates once a day on its axis causing the phenomena of the rising and setting of the sun and moon. They seem to appear in the sky at the horizon to the East, then to cross the sky and disappear at the horizon to the West. Photo
          Sometimes the moon passes through some portion of the earth's shadow and the Earth blocks part or all of the sun's rays from reaching the moon.

This is called a lunar eclipse and can only occur at Full Moon. Now you are ready to learn about a Lunar Eclipse from the BBC.


For information about lunar eclipses visit NASA's Lunar Eclipse Page.
Are you curious about the Names of the Full Moons?
Investigate this in depth chart from different cultures.

The Landscape of the Moon

mare          terre          craters          rays          rilles            .

Mare, Craters, Rays 16% of the lunar surface is covered by dark areas called maria which are areas of hardened lava. Maria means "seas". We can easily see these dark areas from earth. Photo1, Photo 2, Photo 3

The brighter cratered highlands are called terrae. The craters here were formed by meteorite impacts.

The streaks of light-colored material ejected from craters on the moon are called rays.
Click on the photo above and try to identify the features.

The trench running across the middle of this Apollo 10 image is a rille called Rima Ariadaeus. Rilles are common on the moon and are thought to be the remnants of lava flows or collapsed lava tubes. Rima Ariadaeus is a long straight rille, around 3-5 km (2-3 miles) wide and 225 km (140 miles) long, and is seen here from about 14 km (9 miles) above the lunar surface.

Man on the Moon
     It took about 360 years from when the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei made his first observation of the Moon with a telescope in 1610 until the Apollo 11 mission made the first landing on the Moon and returned samples in 1969.
Don't miss the great Apollo 11 story from NASA complete with audio, video, and photos.
Here is a chronology of man's lunar visits.          Information about Astronauts  

The moon missions brought back 382 kilograms (840 pounds) of soil and rock from the moon.
10 Top Ten Scientific Discoveries Made During Apollo Exploration of the Moon.

Astronaut Footprint
A close-up view of an astronaut's footprint in the lunar soil plus more photos
The moon is the easiest thing to see in our night sky, so head outside tonight and enjoy your view!!!
LUNAR      LINKS           GLOSSARY           REFERENCES
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