We take our celestial partner for granted. Study it just a little, you’ll see how extraordinary it is. Check out these facts and questions.
The Most Interesting Moon Facts
There are a number of unanswered questions about our lunar partner the moon. The more we know, the more questions it raises. Check out these celestial curiosities.
How did it get there?
The impact theory is the most widely accepted hypothesis about how the moon ended up in the orbit of the Earth. It states the moon resulted from collision with another planet. Then the material left collected to form the moon. Another theory is moon was a part of the big bang as a separate satellite and the gravity of the Earth captured it. There are problems with these theories.
The big band theory tells us why planets with heavier density are closer to the Sun, while the lighter ones are farther away. It means the Earth and the moon should have similar density. Since planets are spherical, we can estimate density by their diameter.
“What in blazes is our moon doing way out there? It’s too far out to be a satellite of Earth. It is too big to have been captured by the Earth. If the moon is neither a true satellite of the Earth or a captured one, what is it? How did it get there?” ― Isaac Asimov
When we can answer the question of how it got there, it will shed light on all the other unanswered questions. We begin our quest by finding out what the moon is made. If the moon is the made of fragment of the Earth, it should have roughy the same density, the same age, and have the same material as Earth. Scientists say the question, it will shed light on all other unanswered questions concerning our lunar partner. We know where it is, we just don’t know exactly how it got there, which is one of the most interesting moon facts.
Old is Our Lunar Partner?
Moon rocks are magnetized, yet our lunar partner has no magnetic field. How does this occur? Is it possible the magnetic field collapsed? Could this have happened when it broke off the Earth? Or perhaps it never had one? There is no information here to date our celestial neighbor’s age.
How can we date the moon? We can use carbon dating. Radioactive decay for all particles is constant, no matter the atmosphere. Each particle has a unique decay rate. For example, the decay of potassium-40 to argon-40 is often helpful for dating rocks older than 20,000 years. The decay of uranium-238 to lead-206 helps date rocks older than 1 million years. Carbon 14 and 12 are better for dating organic material.
Here’s the problem. The oldest moon rocks dated by carbon dating show the moon is a billion years older than the Earth. The Harvard Astronomy Journey of 1973 reports one moon rock dated back 5.3 billion years, which is older than the estimated age of our solar system. How did this occur? Some think these are the most interesting moon facts.
Moon Rocks, Minerals, and Elements
The outer surface of the moon is hard, contains metals like titanium. Titanium is does not occur naturally. You need to process minerals like ructile, ilmenite and sphene to get it. Other moon rocks contain metals, such as brass, and mica. They also found two unusual elements, on the surface, uranium 236 and neptunium 237. Why is it unusual?
Uranium 236 is a long-lived radioactive nuclear waste material left over from nuclear fuel reprocessed from uranium. Neptunium 237 is a by-product of nuclear reactors using plutonium.
They have discovered unknown iron particles impervious to rust. None of these metals and elements occur by any known natural process. They are, however, consistent with mining and milling operations. Analysis of these celestial curiosities deserves more attention.
Between 1969 and 1972, there were six Apollo missions. They brought back 382 kilograms or 842 pounds of lunar rocks, core samples, pebbles, sand, and dust. These six space flights represent 2200 separate samples from six different sites. As of 2019, NASA claims to have 85% of these samples. NASA admits 180 moon rock samples are just … missing. 180 samples, or approximately 126 pounds, are in private collections.
What Else is Wrong with the Moon?
We can estimate density of a sphere by measuring its radius. The radius is the distance from the surface to the center. If the object is spherical, we can calculate volume using radius, then divide mass by the volume of the sphere to get density.
Experts calculate lunar density is 3.34, whereas the Earth is 5.5. What does this mean? It means the numbers don’t add up. If the moon was a piece of the Earth, it would have similar density. Mars is a planet with a closer to Earth with a density of 3.9.
If we could take appropriately sized samples of soil and rocks from the moon, we could confirm these calculations. Unfortunately, the rock data available from our all lunar missions is too small.
All we know for sure is the seven mare basalt samples are lighter than similar rocks on Earth. It makes you wonder why the data on all the other rock samples isn’t available? Many of the stones are now in private collections, which are not available for further analysis. These rocks are NOT just celestial curiosities; they are clues to our immediate universe.
“Lunar sample analysis shows the moon surface is made of depleted iron. This is consistent with a lower density of 3.34 grams per cubic centimeter. The question of the moon’s core is of debate.” ― Space in the 21st Century by Richard S. Lewis
“If the astronomical data are reduced, it is found that the data require that the interior of the moon is more hollow than a homogeneous sphere.” ― Dr. Gordon MacDonald, NASA scientist 1962
“The lunar orbiter experiments vastly improve our knowledge of the moon’s gravitational field, indicating the frightening possibility that the moon might be hollow.” ― Dr. Sean C. Solomon MIT 1969
“A natural satellite cannot be a hollow object. Therefore, the moon appears to not be a natural satellite at all.” ― Dr. Carl Sagan
Some of the most startling evidence comes from the crash of Apollo 13 on the moon. Seismic instruments on the craft record reverberations lasting for three hours twenty minutes. This vibration level indicates the crust has a depth of around 2 miles, leading researcher to conclude the crust is unusually light.
To put this in perspective, we have Earthquake reverberations from intense quakes over the Richter scale of 6.0. These vibrations only last a matter of a few minutes because of Earth’s density. The length of the reverberation indicates the moon is exceptionally light or perhaps even hollow? What if the moon is a cavern inside? This prompts a host of other questions. It’s one of the most interesting moon facts or mysteries.
How The Lunar Object Influences Earth
The orbit of the moon dictates the Earth’s rotation speed and angle at which the Earth rotates. Because of the Moon, the Earth rotates at 22.5 degrees from vertical. This exact placement create the four seasons in both hemispheres, the moon has had a profound effect on the evolution of life on the planet.
If it were farther away or in a slightly different orbit, it would adversely affect the Earth. The angle of the moon also affects the weather patterns on Earth. It influences the largest living thing on the planet, the oceans. Its lunar cycles influence tides far more than the Sun. The different moon phases are constant. They complete a complete revolution every 28 days.
The human body comprises 70% water content, so the moon affects us. Some believe lunacy is real, it increases crime rates. The increase in light by the full moon may be responsible for a slight increase because night-time crimes are easier to commit.
The Dark Side of the Moon
Another one of the moon’s celestial curiosities is how its rotation is synchronized perfectly with the Earth. It rotates on its axis simultaneously at precisely the rate it takes to revolve around the Earth. We always see the same side. Thus, the moon’s dark side was a mystery until the Soviet Union sent a probe to take first pictures in October 1959.
The astronauts of Apollo 8 were the first to see the dark side of the moon in 1968. China is the first to land a vehicle on the dark side in January 2019. Even though the moon is our closest space partner, we have done little to investigate it since landing there in July 1969 with Apollo 11.
The Earth rotates 400 times faster than the moon. The Earth turns 40,000 kilometers on its axis in a day to the moon’s 400. The Earth spins 366.259 times during one orbit of the Sun. The polar circumference of the Earth is 366.175 times larger than the moon.
Multiply the moon’s circumference by the Earth, the result is 436,669,140 kilometers; this is 99.9% of the Sun’s circumference. Divide the Sun’s circumference, 4.379 million km, by the moon, 10,921 km equals 400.970. Multiply by 10, you get the circumference of the Earth. When you Divide the Sun’s size by the size of the Earth and multiply by 100, you get the Moon’s size.
Are all these mathematical alignments just coincidences? The number of accidental proportional alignments involved in the Earth-Moon-Sun system is nothing less than staggering. The Moon is a perfectly balanced and aligned sphere, completing a unique triune relationship with the Sun and the Earth.
It appears the more we know, the more questions arise. The list of the most interesting moon facts is only just beginning. The investigation of Kuiper and Oort Belts is just beginning. We may know about the moons of other planets in our solar system than we do about our closest neighbor.
Many ancient cultures used the moon to determine a 13-month calendar, which makes more sense than the 12-month calendar based on astrology.
We invite you to submit any suggestions or corrections. Science is constantly discovering new truths.
- Isaac Asimov on Astronomy, Mercury Press 1963, also Our Mysterious Spaceship Moon 1975, Don Wilson
- Dr. Gordon MacDonald, NASA scientist 1962
- Lunar Rock Densities Linda M. V. Martel, Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology
- Dr. Carl Sagan
- Space in the 21st Century by Richard S. Lewis
- Dr. Sean C. Solomon MIT 1969: solarsystem.nasa.gov/moons/in-depth/
- crime rates and crime: newsweek.com/full-moon-september-2018-do-crime-rates-really-rise-full-moon-1135096