The Moon (or Luna) is the Earth’s only natural satellite and was formed 4.6 billion years ago around some 30-50 million years after the formation of the solar system. The Moon is in synchronous rotation with Earth meaning the same side is always facing the Earth.
At a distance of 384,400 km from the Earth, the Moon is our closest celestial neighbour.
- The surface area of the Moon is 37.9 million square kilometers. That sounds like a lot, but it’s actually smaller than the continent of Asia, which is only 44.4 million square km. The surface ares of the whole Earth is 510 million square km, so the area of the Moon compared to Earth is only 7.4%.
- The Moon has much weaker gravity than Earth, due to its smaller mass, so you would weigh about one sixth (16.5%) of your weight on Earth. This is why the lunar astronauts could leap and bound so high in the air.
- The eight different phases of the Moon: Full Moon, Waxing Crescent, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous, Full Moon, Waning Gibbous, Last Quarter and Waning Crescent.
- The Moon is moving approximately 3.8 cm away from our planet every year. It is estimated that it will continue to do so for around 50 billion years. By the time that happens, the Moon will be taking around 47 days to orbit the Earth instead of the current 27.3 days.
- This means that the surface of the Moon is unprotected from cosmic rays, meteorites and solar winds, and has huge temperature variations. The lack of atmosphere means no sound can be heard on the Moon, and the sky always appears black.
- The Moon rotates on its axis in around the same length of time it takes to orbit the Earth. This means that from Earth we only ever see around 60% of its surface (50% at any one time). The side that we can see from Earth is called the near side while the other side is called the far side
- The Moon is very hot during the day but very cold at night. The average surface temperature of the Moon is 107 degrees Celsius during the day and -153 degrees Celsius at night.
- 850 pounds (385 kg) of the Moon were taken by six Apollo crews that came back to Earth.
- An astronaut’s footprint could last for millions of years, as there is no wind or water on the surface of the Moon.
- A full day on the Moon, lasts about 29 Earth days on an average, from one sunrise to next.