Where Did the Moon Come From?
No, one knows for sure how the Moon was formed. By testing moon rocks, scientists have learned that the Moon is about 4.6 billion years old. This is the same age as the solar system.
Scientists think that at that time something as big as a planet crashed into Earth. The collision blasted huge pieces of Earth into space. Some of the pieces came together to make the Moon.
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Scientists continue to study moon rocks for clues. There is still much to learn about the Moon.
What is on The Moon?
In the 1600s, the famous Italian scientist Galileo was the first person to look at the Moon through a telescope. He saw dark spots that he thought were oceans. He called them Maria, the Latin word for seas. Galileo thought the light areas were large landmasses called continents.
Today, we know a lot more about the Moon. We know that nothing lives on the Moon, and there are no oceans. The Maria are dry, flat plains covered with rocks. The Moon is the only place in space that human beings have visited so far.
Fun Fact: The first astronauts landed on the Moon in 1969. They traveled in a United States spacecraft named Apollo 11. The astronauts set up experiments on the Moon and brought some moon rocks back to Earth.
Scientists learned many things about the Moon from the Apollo space missions. They also learned from another spacecraft that orbited the Moon. Some of these spacecrafts sent robot landers down to the surface of the Moon.
If you went to the Moon, you’d see the dark-colored Maria. Scientists think the dark gray rock is lava. They believe that billions of years ago, red-hot rock gushed up from volcanoes on the Moon. The lava flowed over the Moon’s surface. It filled in low places, including some of the big craters. Then the lava cooled to make the Moon’s gray rocks.
The lava also left round hills on the Moon called domes and carved grooves called rilles.
The Moon from Earth
The Moon always seems to change shape. Sometimes it looks like a ball in the sky. Sometimes it is a thin sliver. But the Moon does not really change shape. What happens to it?
The Moon reflects light from the Sun. How you see the reflected sunlight depends on where the Moon is. The Moon goes around Earth. Sometimes it is between the Sun and Earth, and you can’t see any reflected sunlight. This is called the new moon.
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Sometimes Earth is between the Moon and the Sun. You can see all of the reflected sunlight. The Moon looks round. This is called a full moon.
Fun Fact: The Moon is the second brightest thing in our sky, after the Sun. The Moon doesn’t make its own light. Light rays from the Sun bounce off it and make it shine. The Moon is closer to Earth than any other body in our solar system.
The rest of the time, you see only part of the reflected sunlight from the Moon. The reflected sunlight looks like slivers of Moon. It takes about 27 days to go from a new moon to a full moon and back to a new moon again.
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