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Moon

The Moon is an astronomical body that orbits Earth as its only natural satellite. It is the fifth-largest satellite in the Solar System, and the largest among planetary satellites relative to the size of the planet that it orbits (its primary). The Moon is, after Jupiter's satellite Io, the second-densest satellite in the Solar System among those whose densities are known. The Moon is thought to have formed about 4.51 billion years ago, not long after Earth. The most widely accepted explanation is that the Moon formed from the debris left over after a giant impact between Earth and a Mars-sized body called Theia. New research of Moon rocks, although not rejecting the Theia hypothesis, suggests that the Moon may be older than previously thought. The Moon is in synchronous rotation with Earth, and thus always shows the same side to Earth, the near side. The near side is marked by dark volcanic maria that fill the spaces between the bright ancient crustal highlands and the prominent impact craters. After the Sun, the Moon is the second-brightest regularly visible celestial object in Earth's sky. Its surface is actually dark, although compared to the night sky it appears very bright, with a reflectance just slightly higher than that of worn asphalt. Its gravitational influence produces the ocean tides, body tides, and the slight lengthening of the day. The Moon's average orbital distance is 384,402 km (238,856 mi), or 1.28 light-seconds. This is about thirty times the diameter of Earth. The Moon's apparent size in the sky is almost the same as that of the Sun, since the star is about 400 times the lunar distance and diameter. Therefore, the Moon covers the Sun nearly precisely during a total solar eclipse. This matching of apparent visual size will not continue in the far future because the Moon's distance from Earth is gradually increasing.

The full Strawberry Moon, the last supermoon of 2021, rises tonight! Here’s what to expect

“The first full moon of summer 2021, also known as the Strawberry Moon, rises tonight (June 24), marking the last supermoon of the year. June’s full moon arrives Thursday (June 24) at 2:40 p.m. EDT (1940 GMT …

The Next Full Moon Is a “Supermoon” Pink Moon

“The Next Full Moon is the Pink Moon, the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, the Fish Moon, the Paschal Moon (for Eastern Christianity), Hanuman Jayanti, Bak Poya, and a Supermoon. The next full Moon will be late Monday night …

As Artemis Moves Forward, NASA Picks SpaceX to Land Next Americans on Moon

“NASA is getting ready to send astronauts to explore more of the Moon as part of the Artemis program, and the agency has selected SpaceX to continue development of the first commercial human lander that will safely carry the next …

NASA Awards Contract to Launch Initial Elements for Lunar Outpost

“NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for the agency’s Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) and Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO), the foundational elements of the Gateway. As the first long-term orbiting …

China’s Chang’e-5 mission returns Moon samples

“China’s Chang’e-5 mission has returned to Earth with the cargo of rock and “soil” it picked up off the Moon. A capsule carrying the materials landed in Inner Mongolia at 01:59 local time on Thursday (17:59 …

The Chang’e-5 probe completes automatic lunar surface sampling and encapsulates the payload and works normally

“At 22:00 on December 2, after about 19 hours of lunar surface work, the lunar exploration project Chang’e-5 probe successfully completed the automatic sampling of the lunar surface, and the samples were packaged and stored in the storage …

NASA’s SOFIA Discovers Water on Sunlit Surface of Moon

“NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) has confirmed, for the first time, water on the sunlit surface of the Moon. This discovery indicates that water may be distributed across the lunar surface, and not limited to cold, shadowed …

NASA-sponsored moon mission will launch on a SpaceX rocket

“A NASA-contracted lunar lander bound for the moon’s South Pole will launch on a SpaceX rocket in late 2022. Earlier this year, NASA selected Masten Space Systems to manage the delivery of eight different payloads to the moon …

How Do You Solve a Moon Mystery? Fire a Laser at It

“The moon is drifting away. Every year, it gets about an inch and a half farther from us. Hundreds of millions of years from now, our companion in the sky will be distant enough that there will be no more …

Rocket Motors for First NASA Artemis Moon Mission Arrive at Spaceport

“The rocket booster segments that will help power NASA’s first Artemis flight test mission around the Moon arrived at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday for launch preparations. All 10 segments for the inaugural flight …

What’s up with that rock? China’s moon rover finds something strange on the far side

“China’s Yutu-2 lunar rover has discovered what appear to be relatively young rocks during its recent exploration activities on the lunar far side. The Chang’e-4 mission’s rover imaged the scattered, apparently lighter-colored rocks during lunar day 13 …

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse Occurs Friday: Here’s What to Expect

“Next time you’re outside on a bright, sunny day, take note that the shadow you’re casting does not have a sharp edge. In fact, a diffuse penumbra surrounds most any shadow, unless the light is a point source …