Scientists believe that lunar maria formed from lava flows caused when the surface of the moon was disrupted by the impacts of gigantic meteors and comets. Maria is the plural of "mare," which is Latin for sea. One of the most famous of the lunar maria is the Sea of Tranquility, which was the site of the first moon landing.Continue Reading
If a large enough object struck the moon, it may have actually cracked the surface, causing magma to bubble up from the mantle and spread out into the surrounding moonscape and into the impact crater itself, then cooling into a volcanic rock called basalt. The objects that impacted the moon had to be very large. Some maria on the moon are over 621 miles across; scientists believe that it takes an object about one-tenth that size to create such a large feature.
Maria are often darker than the surrounding landscape, and the youngest ones are smooth and nearly devoid of impact craters. Meteors and other debris that struck the moon were common when the moon and the solar system were first forming, but as the solar system aged and became more settled, the number of impacts decreased. The rocks found in the lunar maria are estimated to be about 3.8 billion years old.Learn more about Our Moon
Scientifically speaking, there are three meanings for a red moon: that there is a lunar eclipse, that the moon is near the horizon and the light is passing through a larger amount of atmosphere or that particles in the air (from events like a forest fire or a volcanic eruption) are partially obscuring the light. Any of these conditions cause the light from the moon to be partially scattered, eliminating the blue and green parts of the visible light spectrum so that only red light filters through.Full Answer >
According to Astronomy Magazine, the moon turns red during a lunar eclipse because it is illuminated by the light that refracts through Earth's atmosphere. While the moon may pass into Earth's umbral shadow, the light that bends around the planet is enough to give its satellite an eerie red pallor.Full Answer >
Moon phases refers to the appearance of the moon in the night sky and how much of its visible surface is illuminated. As the moon travels through its orbit, the percentage of its illuminated surface facing Earth waxes and wanes between full illumination and full darkness. This creates several distinct phases: full, gibbous, quarter, crescent and new.Full Answer >
The moon's circular craters are the result of flying objects such as meteorites crashing into the moon's surface. This contact is known as an impact, and the resulting crater is officially known as an impact crater.Full Answer >