Aside from the Sun, the Moon is probably the most spectacular site in space that we can see with the naked eye. Earth's Moon has attracted our interest for thousands of years, to the point where people have explored its surface. It's unique among celestial bodies and has been the subject of books, movies, television shows, and other media. Here are eleven facts about the Moon (or related to the Moon), some of which you may not know:
1) The Moon is slightly more than one quarter of the size of the Earth at a diameter of 3,474 kilometres (2,159 miles). It's the largest moon in our solar system in relation to its parent planet and it's the fifth largest moon in our solar system.
2) The Moon does not rotate on its axis like our planet does. Therefore, whenever we see the Moon, we always see the same side, which is called the near side. The side of the Moon that faces away from the Earth, commonly referred to as the far side of the moon, cannot be seen by the naked eye from Earth.
3) The "dark side" of the Moon is not a fixed geographic location. Instead, the dark side of the moon is the hemisphere or half of the Moon is the region which does not receive sunlight at any given moment. This shadowed region shifts and moves as the Moon moves through space, thus it has no fixed location. Occasionally people mistakenly refer to the "dark side" when they actually mean the "far side".
4) The Moon is the only moon or planet that human beings have ever landed on and explored in person. The first manned landing was in July 1969 while the last manned mission to the moon occurred on December 1972.
5) The Moon does not maintain a constant distance from the Earth. The Moon can be anywhere from 221,460 miles (356,410 km) to 252,700 miles (406,700 km) from the Earth. The Moon is also gradually moving farther away from the Earth at an average rate of 3.8 centimetres (1.5 inches) a year.
6) The Moon is largely responsible for the tides experienced on Earth.
7) No nation, group, or individual owns the Moon. It is currently classified under the same category as "international waters", which do not have an owner.
8) Astronaut Alan Shepard brought golf clubs and golf balls to the Moon on Apollo 14. He hit a ball or two and left his golfing gear on the Moon.
9) In 1971, a small aluminum sculpture called Fallen Astronaut was placed on the Moon by the crew of Apollo 15. The sculpture was made to honor astronauts and cosmonauts who died while in space or training for space missions. Fallen Astronaut is accompanied by a plaque with the names of eight American astronauts and six Soviet cosmonauts who perished who had perished up to that point in time.
10) Humankind has left over 170,000 lbs. of Earth-made equipment on the Moon.
11) In the 1970's British science fiction TV series Space: 1999, Earth's Moon left its orbit due to a series of explosions. It began travelling through space on September 13th, 1999. Fans of Space: 1999 held a convention on September 10 - 13, 1999 to celebrate the show while having one day of the convention coincide with the fictional "Breakaway" date.
These facts are just the tip of the iceberg of the information that you can learn about the Moon.