Phases of the moon

Tonight is a full moon!

So apart from being able to see the whole of one side of the moon (if our skies are clear), what else does this mean?

Here are 10 things you might not know about Earth’s best friend:

Artist's view of the earth

  1. It would take hundreds of thousands of moons to equal the brightness of the sun! About a 400,000 – but you couldn’t fit that many in the sky!
  2. The only month that can occur without a full moon is February.
  3. The moon is about 27% of the size of the Earth.
  4. Gravity on the moon is about 1/6 of that on the earth, so if you drop a rock on the moon, it falls more slowly.
  5. Each year the moon is moving away from us! It steals some of the earth’s rotational energy and uses it to propel itself about 4cms higher in its orbit!
  6. When the moon was formed about 4.6 billion years ago, it was about 14,000 miles away from us. Now it’s more than 250,000 miles away.
  7. The maximum temperature on the moon can reach 127C and the lowest about -173C!
  8. It’s only tonight, during a full moon that the opposite side of the moon is completely dark.
  9. The honeymoon is named after the full moon in June. It fell between the planting and harvesting of crops and was thought to be the best month in which to get married.
  10. The dark spots on the moon are actually basins filled up to 5 miles deep with basalt – a dense kind of mineral. There are also ‘seas’ of frozen lava and mountains that reach over 5,000 metres high (this would put them in the top 10 of the highest mountains on earth!).

…and the moon has come back into popularity for space exploration as the European Space Agency are working with the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) to send a lander to the south pole of the moon.

Nearly 50 years ago there was a race to be the first country to put a man on the moon and now there will be a joint venture between many nations. It is the start of a number of missions where astronauts will test whether there are raw materials on the moon that can produce fuel and water! They may even build a lunar base on the far side of the moon! Watch this space!