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Inside this magazine: Size of the moon, How it was formed, Effects of earth Composition, Phases, Orbit, Mission Timeline.

Mysteries of the moon

Table of Contents Page 2- Formation of the Moon Page 3- Composition of the Moon Page 4- Size/Distance from Earth Page 5- Phases of the Moon Page 6- Orbit of the Moon Page 7- Effects on the Earth Page 8- Missions to the Moon


Formation of the Moon 

Impact- One theory is that it was formed from the Earth's crust, following the impact of a large (Mars-sized) asteroid. A long string of rocky fragments were blown out from the Earth in the form of a trail, which coalesced into the Moon. Supporting this, the Earth has a large iron core but the Moon does not : the Earth's iron would have already sunken into the core by the time the giant impact happened. Coaccreation- Another theory, advocated by Edward Roche, is known as coaccretion. It proposes the concurrent information of both the Earth and the Moon from clouds of space material. As a result the new Moon gets spun by the Earth's gravity field and starts to circle the Earth. The fact is that all smaller solar bodies appear to be irregularly shaped, but larger ones are nearly spherical. Fission- The fission theory states that the Moon long ago split off from a fast-rotating Earth, like mud flung from a spinning bicycle wheel. The present Pacific Ocean basin is the most popular site for the part of the Earth from which the Moon may have come. This is not supported by evidence of higher rotational speed in the past. Capture- If the Moon formed separately, it could have come close enough to the Earth's gravitational field to be trapped. The angle of orbital approach would have to be within narrow parameters in relationship to the moving center of the orbiting Earth. The chance of this occurrence is very low without some other gravitational interaction. The prevailing theory at present is some form of early impact, possibly by a co-orbiting object that fused with the Earth after the collision, but that blasted loose the material which later formed the Moon

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Composition of the Moon The moon is made up of many things. The dark spots on the moon are called seas. The seas do not contain water. The seas are flat regions and the light areas are higher and rugged land. The whiter regions are sometimes called highlands. The moon is also made up of many different rocks. The younger the rock the darker it is. That is one of the reasons that the “seas� are darker. Small asteroids hit the moon and leave behind rocks which contribute to the darkness. The moon is mostly made up of rocks. There is no form of life on the moon. That is because there is nothing on the moon to sustain life.

Fun Fact: There are 2 golf balls that are currently laying on the moon.


Size- Distance from the Moon Earth Mean diameter


12,742 km

3,476 km


1.08321 x 1012 km3 2.199 x 1010 km3


5.9736 x 1024 kg

7.349 x 1022 kg

The moon is 238,855 miles away from earth. Or 384400 km from earth. Each Pixel from the earth to the moon represents 600 km.

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Phases of the Moon New Moon

Waxing Crescent

First Quarter

Waxing Gibbous

Full Moon

Waning Gibbous

Last Quarter Waning Crescent

The side of the moon facing the Earth is not illuminated. Additionally, the moon is up throughout the day, and down throughout the night. For these reasons we cannot see the moon during this phase. During this phase, part of the Moon is beginning to show. This lunar sliver can be seen each evening for a few minutes just after sunset. We say that the Moon is "waxing" because each night a little bit more is visible for a little bit longer. During first quarter, 1/2 of the moon is visible for the first half of the evening, and then goes down, leaving the sky very dark. When most of the Moon is visible we say it is a Gibbous Moon. Observers can see all but a little sliver of the moon. During this phase, the Moon remains in the sky most of the night. When we can observe the entire face of the moon, we call it a Full Moon. A full moon will rise just as the evening begins, and will set about the time morning is ushered in. Like the Waxing Gibbous Moon, during this phase, we can see all but a sliver of the Moon. The difference is that instead of seeing more of the Moon each night, we begin to see less and less of the Moon each night. This is what the word "waning" means. During a Last Quarter Moon we can see exactly 1/2 of the Moon's lighted surface. Finally, during a Waning Crescent Moon, observers on Earth can only see a small sliver of the Moon, and only just before morning. Each night less of the Moon is visible for less time.


Orbit of the Moon The moon is the earth’s only natural satellite. Its average distance from the earth is 384,403 km. Its revolution period around the earth is the same length and direction as its rotation period, which results in the moon always keeping one side turned toward the earth and the other side turned away from the earth. This type of motion is called synchronous rotation. The side turned away from the earth is called the moon’s dark side, even though it is lit half of the time. The moon’s sidereal period of revolution is about 27.32 days long. This means that a line drawn through the center of the earth and the moon would point to the same star every 27.32 days. Due to slight variations in the orbital velocity of the moon, over a 30 year period, 59% of the moon’s surface is made visible. This is known as libration. The moon’s orbit is not in the plane of the ecliptic and because of the elliptical nature of the moon’s orbit, it is not always the same distance from the earth. At the two intersections of the moon’s orbit and the plane of the ecliptic are two nodes. These nodes regress along the plane of the ecliptic, making one complete rotation every 18.61 years. See Orbits.

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Effects on the Earth The moon has a noticeable effect on the earth in the form of tides, but it also affects the motion and orbit of the earth. The moon does not orbit the center of the earth, rather, they both revolve around the center of their masses called the barycenter. This is illustrated in the following animation. Its gravitational pull causes tides. Its reflected light helps animals see at night. It is the source of much superstition and religious icons in the world's cultures. It causes solar eclipses on rare and highly superstitious/religious occasions. It is eclipsed by the Earth more frequently but still causes wonder for earthlings. It is the original source of "months" on our calendar. It fuelled the "space race" between USA and USSR. It causes the Earth to wobble through its orbit around the sun (Earth does not rotate about its axis, but rather the Earth and the Moon rotate as a binary system around a point between them.)It is thought to be responsible for the 23 1/2 degree tilt of the Earth's axis, hence causing seasons with respect to the sun.


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Mission to the Moon Timeline Unmanned -January 2, 1959 - Luna 1, first man-made satellite to orbit the moon, is launched by the U.S.S.R. Unmanned-March 3, 1959 - Pioneer 4, fourth U.S.-IGY space probe was launched by a Juno II rocket, and achieved an earth-moon trajectory, passing within 37,000 miles of the moon. It then fell into a solar orbit, becoming the first U.S. sun orbiter. Unmanned-September 12, 1959 - Luna 2 is launched, impacting on the moon on September 13 carrying a copy of the Soviet coat of arms, and becoming the first man-made object to hit the moon. Unmanned-October 4, 1959 - Luna 3 translunar satellite is launched, orbiting the moon and photographing 70 percent of the far side of the moon. Unmanned-September 15, 1968 - Soviet Zond 5 is launched, the first spacecraft to orbit the Moon and return. Manned-December 21, 1968 - Apollo 8 is launched with Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, Jr. and William A. Anders, the first Apollo to use the Saturn V rocket, and the first manned spacecraft to orbit the Moon, making 10 orbits on its 6-day mission. Manned-July 20, 1969 - Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, Jr. make the first manned soft landing on the Moon, and the first moonwalk, using Apollo 11. Manned-April 11, 1970 - Apollo 13 is launched, suffering an explosion in its SM oxygen tanks. Its Moon landing is aborted, and the crew, James A. Lovell, Jr., John L. Swigert, Jr. and Fred W. Haise, Jr., return safely. Manned-January 31, 1971 - Apollo 14 moon mission is launched by the U.S. with the legendary Alan Shepard, along with Stuart Roosa and Edgar Mitchell on board. They land in the planned Apollo 13 site, the Fra Mauro highlands, which they explore with the help of a two-wheeled cart that permits the transport of a significantly greater quantity of lunar material than previous missions. Shepard becomes the first man to hit a golf ball on the moon.

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