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the moon

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The moon is our closest neighbouring satellite in space. It has been studied for thousands of years by astronomers, and is also the only object outside earth that has been visited by humans. It has one sixth of earths gravity and never rains.

Photo by Kevin M. Gill

Most scientists believe that the moon was formed when a mars sized space rock crashed into the earth 4.5 billion years ago. Molten rock from the two bodies splashed into space. This made a ring around the earth. Eventually the material clumped together to form the moon. The rocks then cooled and solidified, and formed a hard crust.

About 4 million years ago the moon was bombarded by space rocks, which formed hollows and pushed up mountains. Then one million years later laver seeped from the centre and flooded some craters, forming the Maria or seas. For the past two million years the moon has hardly changed.

The moon has a large rocky crust covering the surface. A rock mantle lays directly underneath. Then the molten zone, which is hotter then the top two layers. The centre or core is the hottest and is directly in the middle.

In the sunshine the moons surface can be 100 degrees Celsius. At night temperatures can plummet to -150 degrees. There is also no wind so footsteps can stay there for billions of years.

Moonquakes are rare and may be caused by the earths gravity, impacts or landslides on crater rims.

The moon has eight phases in total. In order they are new moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full moon, waning gibbous, last quarter, and finally waning crescent. A lunar night lasts two weeks.

Only one side of the moon can be seen from the earth. This is because the moon spins around once in the same amount of time that it takes to orbit the earth. All planets and some objects including our moon, rotate on their axis. The moon measures at 3,476 kilometres or 2,160 miles in diameter.the light areas on the moon are the older higher lands on its surface.

Between 1969 to 1972, 26 American astronauts travelled to the moon. 12 of them walked on its surface and explored different sites. They have brought back over 2,000 types of rocks and dust. Over 60 spacecrafts have successfully travelled to the moon. On the 21st of July, 1969, Apollo 11 commander, Neil Armstrong, made history when he stepped of the footpad of the eagle lunar module, and onto the moons surface. Buzz aldrin joined him minutes later.