Luckily for science, we have not stopped discovering new things at the Moon in decades after Neil Armstrong took his first step.
The Moon is the only natural satellite of the Earth. It’s one of the biggest natural satellites in the Solar System, and the biggest among planetary satellites in relation to the planet size which it orbits (its primary). It’s the second-heaviest satellite among those whose densities are recognized (after the satellite Io of Jupiter).
In fact, it’s the only natural satellite of the Earth that was formed approximately 4.6 billion years ago around 30-50 million years after the formation of our solar system. The moon is in synchronous rotation with our planet meaning similar side is always facing the Earth.
The Moon is considered to have formed about 4.5 billion years ago, not long after the Earth. There are many different hypotheses for its origin; the most highly accepted explanation is that the Moon did form from the debris left over after a massive impact between the Earth and the Mars-sized body known as Theia.
Since the Moon is in simultaneous rotation with the Earth, always displaying the similar face with its closed side marked by a dark volcanic Maria that fills between the prominent impact craters and the bright ancient crustal highlands. It’s the second-brightest frequently visible celestial body in the sky of the Earth after the Sun, as measured by illuminance on the surface of the Earth.
Its surface is really dark (though it can appear extremely bright white) with the reflectance just slightly greater than that of worn asphalt. Its regular cycle of phases and its prominence in the sky have made the Moon an essential cultural influence since prehistoric times on language, art, calendars, and mythology.
The gravitational influence of the Moon enables the body tides, ocean tides, and the slight lengthening of the day. The present orbital distance of the Moon is almost 30 times the Earth’s diameter, with its apparent size in the sky nearly the equal to that of the Sun, causing the Moon to cover the Sun almost exactly in full solar eclipse.
This corresponding of apparent visual size won’t last in the far future. The Moon’s linear distance from the Earth is presently rising at a rate of 1.504 ± 0.028 inches (3.82 ± 0.07 centimeters) annually, but this rate isn’t constant.
The Luna programme of Soviet Union was the first to land on the Moon with the unmanned spacecraft in 1959; the NASA Apollo program of the United States accomplished the only manned missions to date, starting with the first ever manned lunar orbiting mission by the Apollo 8 in 1968, and 6 manned lunar landings in 1969 to 1972, with the first being the Apollo 11.
These missions returned more than 840 lb (380 kg) of lunar rocks that have been used to cultivate a geological understanding of the formation of the Moon’s internal structure, its origin, and its successive history. The Moon has been visited only by the unmanned spacecraft, after the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
There are several interesting things about the moon and trivia which may be essential for you. Here are some of the top interesting facts about the Earth’s nearest big neighbor:
1. A full day on the moon, from one sunrise to the next, usually lasts nearly 29.5 Earth days.
2. The Moon is moving away from us by 1.48inches (3.78cm) a year. Scientific estimates suggest will always occur for 50 billion years. At that time, the Moon will take about 47 days to orbit the Earth, compared to the present 27.3 days.
3. The Moon lacks atmosphere. Therefore, there is no protection for the surface from cosmic rays, asteroids, meteorites, solar winds, or comets. This is the reason the Moon has such high-temperature differences, and it is often covered with impact craters. Also, the lack of atmosphere means no sound can be heard, and the sky is always black.
4. According to astronauts, Moon’s dust smells like gunpowder.
5. The Moon has quakes. The gravitational attraction of the Earth causes some moonquakes many kilometers beneath the surface – causing cracks and ruptures. It is believed that similar to Earth, the Moon has a molten core.
6. There is no dark side of the Moon. Both sides receive an equal amount of sunlight. Nevertheless, the moon is tidally locked to the Earth, only one side of the Moon is ever seen from our planet. This is because the Moon usually rotates around its axis at precisely the same time it takes to orbit Earth. Hence, the side we always see from Earth is reflected by sunlight, while the other side- “dark”- has only been seen by the human eye from a spacecraft and lies in darkness.
7. Our moon is larger than Pluto and 1/4 the diameter of Earth.
8. Of the 6 flags planted on the moon, 5 of them are still existing.
9. If there are 2 full moons in a single month, the second one is referred to as blue moon.
10. Sending an astronaut to the Moon and finding Osama Bin Laden cost the United States government nearly equal amount of money and time: $100 billion and10 years.
11. Jupiter has 67 moons, Mars 2, Uranus 27; Saturn has 62, Neptune 14 and Earth just one.
12. If the earth did not have the Moon, our days would only be six hours long.
13. Eleven of the twelve men who walked on the Moon were Boy Scouts.
14. An Apple did not hit Isaac Newton (The father of gravitational pull) on the head, but it made him curious if the force which makes apples fall influences the motion of the Moon around Earth.
15. A Hunters Moon is sometimes referred to as blood moon and even sanguine moon. This full moon often occurs after the harvest moon.