Click and drag to rotate the moon!
Source: NASA Visualization Technology Applications and Development (VTAD)
Planets aren't the only things that share the solar system with our earth! Harvey wants to know more about our moon. It's the one place on Harvey's adventure that he can actually travel to! Do you want to join him?
Here are some cool things to know about Earth's beautiful moon:
The moon looks brighter and larger than anything else we can see in the night sky. That's not because it's the biggest object out in space. It's actually pretty small compared to most of the planets and stars. But it's much closer, so it appears larger.
The moon is the earth's only natural satellite. A satellite is something that orbits (goes around) a planet. All the other satellites orbiting Earth have been made by people.
Since it's closer to Earth than any of the planets, our moon is the only place beyond Earth where people have walked! 24 people have traveled from the earth to the moon. 12 have actually walked on its surface!
We only see one side of the moon here on Earth. That's because it rotates at the same rate that it orbits the earth.
Even though the moon looks bright to us, it does not create its own light. It reflects the light from the sun. Depending on where it is in its orbit, the sun's light shines on different parts of the moon. That's why it looks like it changes shape.
Sometimes the earth's shadow gets in the way! The earth orbits the sun, and the moon orbits the earth. That means once in a while the earth, sun, and moon all line up so the earth is in the middle. When this happens, the earth blocks the sun's light from reaching the moon. That is called a lunar eclipse, and the moon looks dark because it is covered by the earth's shadow.
Large objects in the sky attract other large objects that are near them. This is called a gravitational pull. It's what keeps the planets revolving around the sun, and the moon revolving around the earth. The moon also has a gravitational pull on the earth, which makes the water in our oceans react with tides, or the rising and falling of the levels of the ocean.
Our moon is like a desert with plains, mountains, and valleys. It also has many craters, holes created when space rocks hit the surface at a high speed. There is no air to breathe on the Moon.
Image of the moon taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter