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    IntroductionThe fifth largest moon in the solar system, Earth's Moon is the only place beyond Earth where humans have set foot. The brightest and largest object in our night sky, the Moon makes Earth a more livable planet by moderating our home planet's wobble on its axis, leading to a relatively stable climate. It also causes tides, creating a rhythm that has guided humans for thousands of years. The Moon was likely formed after a Mars-sized body collided with Earth.

    Earth's only natural satellite is simply called "the Moon" because people didn't know other moons existed until Galileo Galilei discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter in 1610. Explore Earth's Moon ›

    Ten Things to Know About Earth's Moon

    Ten Things to Know About Earth's Moon

    1

    Small Companion

    If you set a single green pea next to U.S. nickel, you'd have a pretty good idea of the size of the Moon compared to Earth.

    2

    Constant Companion

    The Moon is Earth's only natural satellite. It goes around the Earth at a distance of about 239,000 miles (385,000 kilometers).

    3

    Locked Up

    The Earth and Moon are tidally-locked. Their rotations are so in sync we only see one side of the Moon all the time. Human's didn't see the lunar far side until a Soviet spaecraft flew past in 1959.

    Viewing Copernicus

    4

    Can Stand on It

    The Moon is a rocky, solid-surface body with much of its surface cratered and pitted from impacts.

    5

    Bring a Spacesuit

    The Moon has a very thin and tenuous atmosphere called an exosphere. It is not breathable.

    6

    Moonless

    The Moon has no moons.

    7

    Ringless

    The Moon has no rings.

    8

    Many Visitors

    More than 105 robotic spacecraft have been launched to explore the Moon. It is the only celestial body beyond Earth—so far—visited by human beings.

    9

    Potential for Life?

    The Moon's weak atmosphere and its lack of liquid water cannot support life as we know it.

    10

    Moonwalkers

    Apollo sstronauts brought back a total of 842 pounds (382 kilograms) of lunar rocks and soil to Earth. We are still studying them.

    Apollo 11 Bootprint

    Did You Know?

    Fast Fact: Lunar Eclipses

    A total lunar eclipse will be visible in the Americas, Europa, Africa and the Central Pacific on Jan. 21, 2019. During a lunar eclipse, Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon, blocking the sunlight falling on the Moon. There are two kinds of lunar eclipses:

    • A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon and Sun are on opposite sides of Earth.
    • A partial lunar eclipse happens when only part of Earth's shadow covers the Moon.

    During some stages of a lunar eclipse, the Moon can appear reddish. This is because the only remaining sunlight reaching the Moon at that point is from around the edges of the Earth, as seen from the Moon's surface. From there, an observer during an eclipse would see all Earth's sunrises and sunsets at once.

    All About Lunar Eclipses ›

    Series of images showing a lunar eclipse
    A composite of seven images shows the full moon at perigee, or supermoon, during a total lunar eclipse on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Denver. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

    Pop Culture

    Pop Culture

    Verne - Earth to Moon
    J.T. Maston Had Grown Fat. Illustrated Edition: 1886 by permisssion of Jerry Woodfill

    Our lunar neighbor has inspired stories since the first humans looked up at the sky and saw its gray, cratered face. Some observers saw among the craters the shape of a person's face, so stories refer to a mysterious "Man in the Moon." Hungrier observers compared its craters to cheese and dreamed of an entire sphere made of delicious dairy products.

    Jules Verne's 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon is often credited with inspiring real-life rocket pioneers such as Robert Goddard and Hermann Oberth. While the novel is science fiction, Verne made a few interesting and accurate predictions.

    • The United States would launch the first manned vehicle to go to the Moon. The shape and size of the vehicle would closely resemble the Apollo command/service module spacecraft.

    • The number of men in the crew would be three.

    • A competition for the launch site would ensue between Florida and Texas which actually was resolved in Congress in the 1960s with Kennedy Space Center as the Flordia launch site and Houston, Texas, as the Mission Control Center.

    • A telescope would be able to view the progress of the journey. When Apollo 13 exploded, a telescope at Johnson Space Center witnessed the event which happened more than 200,000 miles from Earth.

    • The Verne spacecraft would use retro-rockets which became a technology assisting Neil Armstrong and his crewmates in their journey to the Moon.

    • Verne predicted weightlessness although his concept was slightly flawed in thinking it only was experienced at the gravitational midpoint of the journey (when the Moon and Earth gravity balanced).

    • The first men to journey to the Moon would return to Earth and splash down in the Pacific Ocean just where Apollo 11 splashed down in July of 1969 one hundred and six years after the initial publication of the novel.

    • The Moon made its film debut in a 1902 black and white silent French film called Le Voyage Dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon). And a year before astronauts walked on the moon, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) told the story of astronauts on an outpost on the moon. Decades later, it is still widely regarded as the best science fiction movie ever made.

    In reality, while we do not yet have a Moon colony, spacecraft have left lots of debris on the lunar surface, and astronauts have planted six American flags on the Moon. But that doesn't mean the United States has claimed it; in fact, an international law written in 1967 prevents any single nation from owning planets, stars or any other natural objects in space.

    Kid-Friendly Moon

    Illustration of the Moon

    Kid-Friendly Moon

    Most of the planets in our solar system—and some asteroids—have moons. Earth has one moon. We call it "the Moon" because for a long time it was the only one we knew about. Many languages have beautiful words for Moon. It is "Luna" in Italian, Latin and Spanish, "Lune" in French, "Mond" in German, and "Selene" in Greek.

    Our Moon is like a desert with plains, mountains, and valleys. It also has many craters, holes created when space rocks hit the surface at a high speed. There is no air to breathe on the Moon.

    The Moon travels around the Earth in an oval shaped orbit. Scientists think the Moon was formed long, long ago when Earth crashed into a Mars-sized object.

    We always see the same side of the Moon from Earth. You have to go into space to see the other side.

    Visit NASA Space Place for more kid-friendly facts.

    NASA Space Place: All About Earth's Moon ›

    Resources

    Resources

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