Celestron's Top 10 Moon Facts
January 14, 2016
- It Begins - Some 4.5 billion years ago a Mars-sized object called Theia slammed into Earth. Their two cores merged and the orbiting blast of ejected crust slowly formed into our only natural satellite, the Moon!
- What’s in a Name? - The proper name of the Moon is…the Moon! Also called Luna, from Latin where we get the adjective lunar, and Selene, the goddess of the Moon, from Greek.
- The Dark Side – The Moon is tidally locked to Earth meaning we only see the near side. The far side, often called the dark side of the Moon, receives the same amount of sunlight which is why there are phases – from more and more sunlight falling onto the far, or “dark” side of the Moon, and vice versa, as it changes position relative to the Earth and Sun.
- Water in them thar Hills! – 3 different spacecraft have detected forms of water on the Moon. Not enough for a swimming hole though, so leave your bathing suit behind.
- Barely there Air – Atmosphere on the Moon is almost nonexistent – that means no sound, huge temperature variations from day to night, and the sky is always black. Additionally, no wind or rain on the Moon means no erosion which makes the specks of lunar dust sharp and angular like shards of glass, OUCH!
- The Power of 400 – The Moon is 400 times smaller than the Sun, but it’s also 400 times closer to the Earth. Both appear the same size in our sky and this is why we currently observe “total” Solar and Lunar eclipses. Not so in the distant future as the Moon slowly moves away from Earth.
- The Moon Illusion – When seen low on the horizon, an optical trick makes the Moon appear strikingly larger than when overhead. This is due partly to light refraction through Earth’s atmosphere and partly to seeing it near known terrestrial objects which forces an unusual perspective. Compare it with a coin at arm’s length and see for yourself.
- Colorful Moon – Rising or setting, the Moon often takes on a reddish, deep yellow, or bright orange hue because we’re “seeing” through more atmosphere. When higher in the sky the Moon appears bright white and gray. In Space, the Apollo astronauts compared the color to dark asphalt.
- Thank you GALILEO! – In 1609 Galileo Galilei improved upon early refracting telescope designs and is remembered as the first person to view and sketch the Moon calling into question centuries of conventional wisdom and changing astronomy forever.
- Moonwalkin’ - The Moon has been walked upon by 12 people - all American males. The first Moonwalker was Neil Armstrong in 1969 during the Apollo 11 mission which was one of the most documented events in human history.