With the recent passing of Neil Armstrong, many of us have looked to the night sky in his memory. Armstrong, who commanded the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969, was born in Wapakoneta, in western Ohio. Along with other pioneering astronauts, he changed the way we look at moon and what we know about the mysterious orb. Though you may not be able to attend Armstrong's official memorial, you can have your own for him this month: on August 31, a Blue Moon will occur. The perfect time to honor the first man on the moon!
Here are some facts about the moon to get you in the mood for some serious midnight gazing:
- It takes 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds for the moon to go through all of its phases, from one full moon to the next. This time period is close to the length of a month -- which is why the word "month" is derived from the Old English word for "moon."
- The light that comes from the moon is sunlight reflected off the moon's surface. It takes 11/4 seconds for the light to travel to earth. The moon only reflects 7 percent of the light it receives from the sun.
- The moon is 2,160 miles in diameter -- about a quarter of the earth's diameter. If the earth were as big as a fist, the moon would be the size of a stamp -- placed ten feet away.
- The average temperature on the moon is minus 283 degrees to minus 266 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Since the moon spins once on its axis every 271/3 days -- the same amount of time it takes to go around the earth once -- we end up seeing only one side of the moon (about 59 percent of its surface).
- The moon is smaller than any planet in the solar system, but relative to the size of the planets they orbit, our moon is the largest of any planet's moons.
- Saturn has thirty moons -- far more than any other planet. It has so many that half of them have numbers for names: Pan, Atlas, Prometheus, Pandora, Epimetheus, Janus, Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Telesto, Calypso, Dione, Helene, Rhea, Titan, Hyperion, Iapetus, Phoebe, S/2000 S 1, S/2000 S 2, S/2000 S 3, S/2000 S 4, S/2000 S 5, S/2000 S 6, S/2000 S 7, S/2000 S 8, S/2000 S9, S/2000 S 10, S/2000 S 11, and S/2000 S 12.
- There is no sound on the moon. Nor is there weather, wind, clouds or colors at sunrise and sunset.
- If you weigh 120 pounds on earth, you would weigh 20 pounds -- or 1/6 of your earth weight -- on the moon.
- A 3-foot jump on earth would carry you 18 feet, 9 inches on the moon!
- The moon is moving away from the earth at a rate of about 1/8 inch a year.
- Astronauts have brought over 843 pounds of moon samples back to earth.
Thanks, Neil Armstrong, for inspiring generations and nations, and for showing us a different side of the moon.