Moon facts, we all know a few. However, there are many facts about the moon that you might not know about.
Relative to the size of the planet it orbits, the moon is actually the largest satellite in our solar system. It’s roughly one-quarter of the diameter of earth. On size alone there are actually four satellites bigger than the moon orbiting planets in our system. These are three of Jupiter’s moons, Ganymede, Callisto and Io, and Titan which is a moon of Saturn.
For a long time it has been believed that water cannot exist on the lunar surface. However this is not true. Since the 60s it has been believed that small deposits of liquid water might well be present in permanently shadowed and very cold craters at either of the moon’s poles. The water it is though would have been deposited in the form of ice by comets impacting the moon’s surface or possibly as a result of chemical reaction between solar winds and oxygen rich lunar rocks.
Have you ever considered the preciseness of solar eclipses? It’s a little bit spooky that the moons orbit of 30 times the width of the earth means that the moon and sun appear as the same size in the sky. It is this that makes solar eclipses so vivid.
The moon is about as reflective as coal, which is bizarre when you consider that after the sun it is the second brightest body in our skies. This is due to the opposition effect that affects objects with rough surfaces or many particles. Depending on the phase angle the moon’s brightness increases hugely.
Seasons in terms of light are far less distinguishable on the moon due to its almost perfect axial tilt. This means that its topographical structures have a far more influential effect on the how and where light falls on the moon. For example there are mountainous regions on the rim of the Peary crater that remain in ‘daylight’ for the entire length of a lunar day.
Nearly all the craters on the moon were caused by impacts with the largest being over 200 miles wide and the smallest ones being microscopic. As the moon has such a scarcity of water and tectonic plates the craters tend not to erode. It is though that many of the craters have been present for over two billion years.
16 percent of the moon is referred to as Lunar Maria. These are basaltic plains that were originally mistaken by astronomers to be seas. The plains are actually iron rich and appear darker than the rest of the moon due to being less reflective. They were caused by volcanic eruptions dating back over 3 billion years.
Wow. If you ever wanted to know your place in the universe, moon facts are a good way to go… Big place this little old universe of ours…
About the author: Cynthia Seymour when not goggling through her telescope researches novelty gift ideas for the online emporium Find Me A Gift.