Have you ever paused during a walk and exclaimed, ‘Wow, the Moon looks amazing tonight!’? I’m sure most of us have taken out our phones, trying to capture its beauty, or admired it at least once in our life. The Moon has been the silent witness to humankind’s progress and has inspired artists and scientists alike. But how much do we know about it? Here are five impressive facts about Earth’s natural satellite.
1. A Brutal Beginning
The Moon is over 4.5 billion years old, resulting from a crash between two celestial bodies: the proto-earth and Theia, a planet the size of Mars. Astronomers believe that Theia hit the early version of our planet. The resulting debris had solidified and become what we know today as the Moon. Some of Earth’s components have been found in rock samples from it, supporting this theory.
Theia was destroyed after the impact, but its remains have become a part of Earth and the Moon.
2. The Wonder of Many Names
The Sumerians called the god of the Moon by the name of Nanna. The Greeks called the Moon Selene. Latin countries still use versions of the Roman term ‘luna’: the Italians and Spanish had kept the original name. Romanians call it ‘lună,’ the French call it ‘lune,’ and the Portuguese say ‘lua.’
The English term has a complicated history that dates back to Proto-Indo-European ‘mēnsis’. It means month – maybe regarding the full cycle of the Moon, which takes 27 days.
3. Is there a Dark Side?
Many have speculated about what could hide on the hidden part of the Moon: from secret base to alien settlements. All these conspiracy theories couldn’t be more further than the truth!
Since it doesn’t have its own light source, it is entirely dark. We can see the satellite due to the solar light that hits its surface directly or indirectly. And yet, it has a hidden side, one we can’t see from the Earth, which is called the Far Side. The reason behind that is that the Moon orbits our planet simultaneously as it rotates on its own axis, which takes about 27 days. It might be hard to grasp the idea at first, but here is an explanatory video that has helped me understand the phenomenon. So yes, to put it shortly, there is a dark, hidden side of the Moon other than the Pink Floyd album.
4. Nobody has set foot on the Moon in the last 50 years
The last man landing on it happened in 1972. Since then, nobody else set foot on the lunar surface, which has encouraged the skeptics to believe that the Moon landing from 1969 was a hoax. They even said that we never had and still don’t have the technology to undergo such a mission.
While I admit that it’s puzzling that astronauts haven’t been there, considering the scientific development since the 70s, there seems to be a simple reason behind this. The USA wanted to get on it first during The Cold War, and it succeeded; afterward, the appeal diminished, and the priorities changed. To put it shortly, the scientists focused on exploring the rest of the Universe rather than establishing a permanent colony on the Moon.
However, NASA plans to send a human crew to Mars in the 2030s, with an intermediary stop on the Moon. We will have to wait and see if and how this will turn out.
5. Every Full Moon has a specific name
People like to name things, and the full moons make no exception. While the monthly phenomenon has a different name depending on culture (such as Chinese, Celtic, or Native American), here is the NASA list of their official names, and the date they will occur in 2021
List of 2021 Full Moons
|Jan 28||Wolf Moon|
|Feb 27||Snow Moon|
|Mar 28||Worm Moon|
|Apr 26||Pink Moon|
|May 26||Flower Moon|
|Jun 24||Strawberry Moon|
|Jul 23||Buck Moon|
|Aug 22||Sturgeon Moon|
|Sep 20||Corn Moon|
|Oct 20||Harvest Moon|
|Nov 19||Beaver Moon|
|Dec 18||Cold Moon|
Ultimately, I have good news for all my enthusiasts out there. There’s a Moon Museum that travels around the world, allowing its visitors to get as close as possible to the mysterious satellite and admire its beauty.