Earth’s only natural satellite is the moon. The moon orbits the Earth at a distance of 384,400 kilometers and travels at a speed of 3700 kilometers per hour. It has a diameter of 3476 kilometers, or around a quarter of that of the Earth.
After the sun, the moon is the brightest star in the sky. The gravitational forces between the Earth and the moon produce a variety of fascinating results, the most noticeable of which are tides. Although the moon has no atmosphere, there is evidence that water ice can exist in some permanently shaded deep craters near the moon’s North and South Poles.
Regality, a mixture of fine dust and rocky debris formed by a meteor impact, covers the majority of the moon’s surface. On the moon, there are two kinds of terrain. The highland, which is heavily cratered and very old, is one example. The others are the molten lava-filled younger craters, which are relatively smooth.
Visual observation of the visible side of the moon by powerful telescopes in the 19th and 20th centuries yielded a reasonably comprehensive image of the moon’s visible side. The world first saw the moon’s previously unknown far side in October 1959, thanks to images taken by the Soviet Lunik III spacecraft.
The far side of the moon appears to be close to the near side, with the exception of the absence of the massive lunar Maria. Craters now cover the entire moon, varying in size from the massive, ringed Maria to microscopic craters. There are approximately 3 trillion craters on the moon that are greater than 1 meter in diameter.
When it travels around the world, the moon goes through various phases. Half of the moon is still lit by the sun, just as half of the world has day and the other half has darkness. The moon’s phases are determined by how much of the sunlit half is visible at any given moment. The face is totally in shadow throughout the new moon.
A week later, the moon is in its first quarter, resembling a half-circle; a week after that, the full moon displays its fully illuminated surface; and a week after that, the moon is in its last quarter, resembling a half-circle once more. Every lunar month, which lasts about 29.5 days, the entire cycle is repeated.
When the moon is further away from the sun than the earth, it is filling; when it is closer, it is fresh. It is said to be in a gibbous phase when it is more than half-illuminated. When the moon waxes as it passes from full to fresh, it is called the moon.
Temperatures on the surface range from a high of 127° C (261° F) at lunar noon to a low of -173° C (-279° F) just before lunar dawn. During this season, the moon rises at a point opposite the sun, or near to the exact eastern point of the horizon, just before the autumnal equinox on September 23.
Furthermore, the moon rises just a few minutes later each night, providing an enticing moonrise near sunset time and clear moonlight almost all night if the skis are not clouded on many consecutive evenings.
Farmers in northern latitudes who are harvesting their crops profit from the moonlight that continues after sunset. The hunter’s moon is the full moon following the harvest m(X) n, which shows the same phenomenon but to a lesser extent. At the spring equinox on March 21, a phenomenon similar to the harvest moon can be seen in southern latitudes.