The moon has long been an object of fascination for humans, and we’ve developed many legends about it over the years. In reality, however, the moon is much more than just folklore; it’s actually our closest neighbor in space! Here’s everything you need to know about our celestial neighbor and what its many phases mean to Earthlings like you and me.

 

7 Things To Know About The Moon

The moon is just one of many satellites that orbit Earth, along with other natural satellites like our own—yes, that’s right—the moon is also a satellite. The only difference between it and artificial satellites (like telecommunications and imaging) is that most people view it from space. And because of how small it appears in our sky, we often overlook its presence altogether. But there are many things about our natural satellite that you may not know! Here are 7 things you should know about our lovely moon.

 

The moon is rotating at least once every twenty-four hours

Although it may not seem like it, our moon is rotating, just like Earth. While we only see one side of Earth at a time—Earth rotates every twenty-four hours—we always see more than half of the moon. This means that every night, part of it disappears behind Earth and then reappears again on its other side after about eight hours have passed.

 

The moon’s rotation slows down over time

Earth’s gravity is pulling on it, causing it to speed up in its orbit around Earth. But that same pull also causes its rotation rate—the speed at which it turns on its axis—to slow down. The moon’s rotation will eventually slow down so much that Earth and the moon are perfectly aligned every month. There will be a solar eclipse in every lunar cycle, but these cycles will last longer than they do now because of our changing rotation rates.

 

Two weeks on the moon equals one month on Earth

When you’re on Earth, a month passes in 30 days. But when you’re on the moon, that same month only consists of two weeks. That’s because it takes longer for light from Earth to reach our lunar friends and family than vice versa. In reality, one month on earth is called a synodic month (29.5 days), but we use it as if it were exactly one full rotation around our Sun.

 

The dark spots are called maria and they are made of basalt, a volcanic rock

they were formed by ancient volcanic eruptions. The dark spots on Earth’s moon, meanwhile, are called maria (like our ocean) but they are made of basalt as well and they were also formed by ancient volcanic eruptions. That’s because water seeping into cracks in our planet’s crust cooled off and solidified, just like it did when volcanoes erupted on Earth a few billion years ago.

 

The surface appears similar to Earth because of meteor impacts, lava flows, and volcanoes like Olympus Mons

Mars has two tiny moons, Phobos and Deimos. These are very small, irregularly shaped bodies that orbit close to Mars. As with most other moons in our solar system, they were probably captured by Mars’ gravity.

 

Moon dust is a fine powdery substance which sticks to everything

When a meteor strikes our atmosphere, it burns up, creating what’s called meteor dust. But when a meteor hits at a high speed of more than 12 miles per second (the speed needed to escape Earth’s gravity), or at extremely high altitudes (generally considered anything beyond an altitude of 62 miles) it doesn’t burn up completely.

 

Meteorites from Mars hit the surface more often than anyone expected

New research has revealed that meteorites from Mars hit Earth more often than we previously knew. This is great news for astrobiologists who study Mars—but it also means that our planet is more vulnerable to a meteorite bombardment than once thought. Learn about these findings and how we might protect ourselves!

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