The Moon

Da miliardi di anni la Luna illumina la Terra di notte. Questo satellite muove gli oceani e ci aiuta a misurare il tempo. Dal primo allunaggio, solo 12 persone hanno messo piede sulla sua superficie.

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Daniel Francis

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Many scientists concur that around 4.5 billion years ago an object the size of Mars collided with our planet. The energy produced was a hundred million times greater than the impact of the asteroid that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs sixty-five million years ago. Luckily for us, the result was the Moon. 

HOME SWEET HOME

Our only natural satellite circles our planet at a distance of 385,000 kilometres. The Moon makes the Earth a more habitable home. Acting as a mirror for the Sun, it gives us light. Its gravity also causes tides, creating a rhythm that has ‘guided’ humans for thousands of years. 

THE DARK SIDE

Our friendly neighbour is shy, however. The rotations of the Earth and the Moon are in sync, so we only see one side of the Moon. Twelve men – all Americans – walked on that side between 1969 and 1972. The ‘Space Race’ – the race between the USA and Russia to reach the Moon first – was part of the Cold War. This ‘war’ dominated global politics for decades. 

MAN IN THE MOON

Humans have looked up at the celestial body for thousands of years. Many saw a human face, ‘the Man in the Moon’. In 1609, Galileo used a new invention, the telescope, to make the first observations of space, including the Moon. His discoveries supported the idea that the Sun, and not the Earth, was the centre of the Universe. 

INFLUENCING MANKIND

The Moon has influenced cultures around the world for millennia. Many civilisations have measured time using lunar calendars, creating 28-day months. There are paleolithic cave paintings of the Moon’s phases. 

CELESTIAL CHEESE

Even today, the Moon is a mystery for many people. In a survey in 1988 by the Lowell Observatory of Flagstaff, Arizona, 13 per cent of the respondents thought that the Moon was made of cheese!

Earth’s Neighbour

La Luna es una constante en las culturas de todo el mundo, con una presencia destacada en poesías, pinturas, leyendas y canciones populares de todas la épocas. Sin embargo, aún es mucho lo que el público general desconoce de nuestro satélite natural.

1 The Moon is not a sphere

It is actually egg-shaped. When we look at it, we are looking at one of the small ends! It is also wonky — its centre of mass is not exactly in the geometric centre — perhaps because of so many asteroid collisions.

2 We never see all the Moon 

The most we can ever see is 59 per cent. If we were on the lunar surface, in the other 41 per cent, we could never see the Earth, our home. Dark Side of the Moon, by Pink Floyd, is one of the most famous LPs of all time.

3 The Moon was almost destroyed by Man!

During the Cold War, the Americans considered exploding a nuclear bomb on the Moon. The idea was to show the Russians just who was the boss … on the Earth and in the stars!

4 Our neighbour is making us slower

The presence of the Moon is reducing the speed of the Earth’s rotation. In the last hundred years, our planet has slowed by 1.4 milliseconds. Our days will gain a second in 50,000 years. No need to reset our watches yet!

5 In the shadow of the Sun

The Sun is fourteen times brighter than the full moon. For a full moon to shine with the same brightness as the Sun, you would need 398,100 Moons! That is a lot of collisions!

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