What Is The Moon?

What Is The Moon?

Have you ever sat outside at night and looked at the Moon? And asked yourself, ‘what is it?' or ‘where did it come from? Discover all you've ever wanted to know here about the moon on VideoJug.

Have you ever sat outside at night and looked at the Moon? And asked yourself, ‘what is it?' or ‘where did it come from?

The Moon is our closest neighbour in space. It is also the largest moon in comparison to its mother planet. Apart from Mercury and Venus, every other planet has at least one Moon.

Many theories abound about how the moon got there. One theory says that it was ‘born' at the same time as Earth from the same dust cloud.

Another, newer theory, says that Earth was hit by a large body billions of years ago, and that the debris sprayed out into space, and the Moon was created from this debris.

Our Moon goes around the earth every 28 days, and as it does so the sunlight illuminates it from different angles, and this effect causes the phase to change each night.

Beginning with the Moon between the Earth and the Sun we have a new Moon. One week later the Moon has moved to here and we see half of it lit up. On it goes until it is directly behind the Earth and we see a full moon.

A week later it's gone around to the other side and we see the last quarter. And back to new Moon.

But as the Moon goes around us it always keeps the same face pointed towards us and we never get to see the far side of the moon.

Satellite photographs have recently showed that the far side of the Moon is completely different from our side. It is mostly cratered and mountainous. Our side has smooth darker areas that we call ‘seas' or ‘Maria'.

They are not real seas filled with water, but rather darker patches thought to be caused by giant impacts and then filled back in with molten lava.

Because the Moon has no defensive atmosphere it has been the victim to millions of hits from meteorites over billions of years. The evidence of these hits can be seen in the numerous craters. Older craters have scars from later hits.

The surface of the Moon is covered in a layer of dust. Probably thrown out by these meteorite hits. High mountain ranges can be seen.

The Moon wobbles in its orbit around the Earth, and so, occasionally we get to see the north and south poles. It is at these poles that scientists believe, deep down inside craters, where the Sun never shines, there may be frozen water.

The moon has a massive effect on the Earth and this effect can be seen in the tides rising and ebbing as the Earth spins. The tides tend to bulge in the direction of the Moon.

When the Moon is between the Earth and the Sun, the combined gravity of the Sun and Moon give us high spring tides.

When the Moon is quarter full, then the gravity from the sun and moon cancel each other out and we get lower neap tides.

Getting to the Moon became a major issue in the late 1950's and 1960's. Both Russia and America embarked on a massive space race.

Although it was the Russians who first landed an unmanned probe on the Moon in 1959 with their Luna 2 mission,

It was in 1969 that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to land on the Moon in their Apollo 11 rocket. 12 other American astronauts went to the moon up until 1972.

One or two of them even took a car!

For more intriguing information about our solar system, check out our other films on the Videojug website.