The Moon has been revolving around the Earth for about 4.5 billion years, and it’s one-quarter the size of our planet. Its innermost core is made up of iron, nickel, and sulfur. The two outer layers comprise a real potpourri of materials: The middle layer mostly contains olivine, orthopyroxene, and clinopyroxine.
The top layer that we see when we gaze at the sky has all kinds of elements, including way more iron than our planet, plus oxygen, silicon, calcium, aluminum, titanium, uranium, potassium, and hydrogen. The density of our planet is greater than that of the Moon, which explains why there is more gravitational pull from Earth.
The Moon’s Place Around Our Earth
The Moon is a dark cosmic object with no light except what’s cast upon it by the Sun. While the Moon revolves around the Earth, the Earth revolves around the Sun, and the logistics of this revolution allow us to see only one side of the Moon. Eons ago the Moon’s revolution was faster, but over time the Earth’s tidal forces slowed it down. Will it slow down even more? Logic tells us that this is possible, but it would take eons more to develop any noticeable change.
Actually, the Moon pulls away from the Earth at a rate of 4 cm per year, but the effect is so small that we will, as with the revolutionary cycle, never notice any difference in our lifetime. The Moon is only 384,392 km (238,000 miles) away from Earth, while the Sun is much farther away at 149, 597, 870.7 km (93,000,000 miles).
For that reason, while the Sun is much larger than the Moon, they both appear to be about the same size when we look at them. But in case you’d still like to drive out to the Moon, plan on spending about 130 days in your car—a rocket would get you there much faster, in about 13 hours.
The word Moon in Latin is luna, and words such as lunatic and lunacy come to us as variations of that word. Centuries ago, scientists believed that the pull from the full Moon on the water naturally found in a person’s brain had the potential to make him crazy or foolish. There are a few other words based on luna including lunambulism, identifying someone who sleepwalks only in the Moonlight. Demilune describes something that is crescent-shaped, like a slice of the Moon. Cislunar indicates that something is between the Earth and the Moon.
The “dark side” of the Moon, as we call it, was photographed by a Soviet or Russian space probe way back in 1959. American astronauts actually visualized it in 1968 on the United States’ Apollo 8 mission. Its surface bears craters, just like the side of the Moon that we see, but there are fewer of the dark plains caused by volcanic activity.
Since there is less interference from Earth’s radio transmission, scientists consider that the far side of the Moon would be a good place to install a large radio telescope to study space beyond the Moon, but no plans have ever evolved.
Have you heard news stories suggesting that the Americans really did not land on the Moon in 1969? Many people believe stories that the images broadcast from the Moon were faked and that the enormous challenge of reaching the Moon prevented a successful mission. Those rumors are all untrue, including recent ones that life forms were seen scuttling away from the astronauts.
People have been making up “Moon hoaxes” for ages, with the earliest one dating back to Sir John Herschel, who purportedly discovered life on the Moon.
You can read about it here. http://www.museumofhoaxes.com/hoax/archive/permalink/the_great_Moon_hoax.
People who continue to wonder about the poor quality of the images broadcast from Apollo 11 by the American astronauts should consider that without the technology we have today, the conversion of the images to a format that would reach our television sets caused a great deal of distortion.
The Original Moon Walkers
A total of 12 men have landed during the six successful missions to the Moon. Because of the lack of atmosphere and erosion on the Moon, their footprints will remain visible for at least ten million years! They are:
- Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin
- Apollo 12, Pete Conrad and Alan Bean
- Apollo 14, Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell
- Apollo 15, David Scott and James Irwin
- Apollo 16, John W. Young and Charles Duke
- Apollo 17, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt
- You’ll note Apollo 13 is missing from the list. It’s the ill-fated mission depicted in the movie starring Tom Hanks, appropriately called Apollo 13, about a lunar module damaged by an oxygen explosion that barely made it back to Earth.
Yes, It’s True:
Water was discovered on the Moon in 2009, in lunar ice formations in craters at the poles of the Moon.
Since the Moon’s orbit takes 27.3 days and February has 28 days, there are some years when there is no full Moon in February. However, when that happens, you can expect two full Moons in either January or March to make up for it.
Of Earthlings surveyed back in 1988, 13% of them said they believed the Moon was made of cheese.
Lunar eclipses always occur during the full Moon, and they cannot last longer than three hours and forty minutes. Since the Moon is obstructed by the Earth’s shadow, and the Earth’s shadow is conical, the duration of the eclipse depends on what part of the cone the Moon is traveling behind.
Few movies are actually made about the Moon. You can rent 1995’s Apollo 13, or 1964’s First Men In the Moon, based on a story by H.G. Wells. There’s also Capricorn One, a movie made in 1977 about a Moon hoax. Mars has definitely received more coverage from Hollywood.
Can You Buy A Piece of the Moon?
No, you cannot buy Moon rocks. All Moon rocks on Earth are the property of the U.S. government and are not for sale. The only exceptions are Moon rocks given away by President Richard Nixon to various world leaders. The Moon rock given to the head of the Honduran government disappeared and apparently was offered for sale under suspicious circumstances in 1994. The best advice from this episode is to avoid anyone trying to sell Moon rocks for cash, especially if they suggest a meeting in the middle of the jungle. They probably won’t sell you a real Moon rock.
Underhil, Kevin. United States v. One Moon Rock. Forbes.com, at