Our Moon

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In 1999, a space probe called the Lunar Prospector carried some of the ashes of American scientist Eugene Shoemaker to the moon. As of 2015, Shoemaker is the only human to be "buried" on the moon, though not all of Shoemaker's remains were sent with the Prospector.

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  • Is the moon moving farther away from Earth?

    Q: Is the moon moving farther away from Earth?

    A: The moon is in fact gradually drifting away from the earth. Each year, the moon spins almost 4 centimeters farther from the earth, which makes the earth's day just a bit longer. While this 1.48-inch movement will eventually add up to a big change, it will take billions of years to make a significant difference to life on earth.
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  • How can I tell what phase the moon is in?

    Q: How can I tell what phase the moon is in?

    A: The way to identify which of the phases the moon is in is based on which section of the moon's face is lit by the sun. The moon has eight phases, which happen in the same cycle over the course of a 29-day period.
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  • How close does the moon get to the Earth?

    Q: How close does the moon get to the Earth?

    A: The moon travels in an elliptical orbit, and at perigee, the closest it gets to Earth, it stands about 225,623 miles, or 363,104 kilometers away.
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  • Can the moon really affect your sleep patterns?

    Q: Can the moon really affect your sleep patterns?

    A: Though scientists find the phenomenon hard to explain, it may be true that people tend to get a little bit less sleep during a full moon, and the sleep they do get is not as deep as it is at other times of the month. While increased nighttime light could be an issue, research showed that the moon impacted subjects' sleep even if they were in a windowless room. However, the European scientists who conducted this study, which was reported in 2013, seem to doubt their own findings.
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  • How many phases does the moon have?

    Q: How many phases does the moon have?

    A: The moon has a total of eight individual phases. Four of these phases are considered to be the moon's main phases. The remaining four phases are considered to be the moon's transitional phases.
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  • Is the moon bigger than the Earth?

    Q: Is the moon bigger than the Earth?

    A: The moon is not bigger than the Earth as it has a diameter of approximately 2,159 square miles, which is about one-quarter of the size of Earth. In addition to being smaller than the Earth, the moon is much lighter. It weighs approximately 80 times less than Earth, but what it lacks in density, the moon makes up for in luminosity.
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  • What is bigger: the Earth or the Moon?

    Q: What is bigger: the Earth or the Moon?

    A: The Earth is much bigger than the moon. While the Earth is measured at 8,000 miles in diameter, the Moon only measures 2,160 miles in diameter. This means that if the Earth was hollowed out, the Moon could fit inside it 50 times.
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  • How long does it take the moon to rotate on its axis?

    Q: How long does it take the moon to rotate on its axis?

    A: One lunar day, the length of time it takes the moon to complete a full rotation on its axis, is equivalent to 28 days on Earth. This is also the amount of time it takes for the moon to complete its orbit around the Earth.
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  • Why does the same side of the moon always face Earth?

    Q: Why does the same side of the moon always face Earth?

    A: Though the moon does rotate around its axis, the speed with which it completes these revolutions match the amount of time it takes to orbit around the Earth, leading the same side to be faced toward Earth at all times. This process takes a about month, meaning the moon's days are as long as an Earth month.
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  • How did a pen save Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin?

    Q: How did a pen save Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin?

    A: When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first attempted to pilot their lunar lander back off the moon, a critical switch broke, forcing the astronauts to improvise a solution with a ballpoint pen. Aldrin took responsibility for breaking the switch, but he was also the one who found the solution in a ballpoint pen.
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  • Are blue moons actually blue?

    Q: Are blue moons actually blue?

    A: While the name "blue moon" conjures up a vivid, colorful image, the term actually refers to those times when there are two full moons in a single month; that second full moon is referred to as the blue moon, though its color is likely to be the same as it ever is. It is possible for the moon to have a bluish appearance, but this is usually due to atmospheric changes on earth, such as smoke or ash in the upper atmosphere as the result of fires or volcanic activity.
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  • What is the meaning of a yellow moon?

    Q: What is the meaning of a yellow moon?

    A: When the moon appears orange or yellow, it simply means that the observer is looking at it through more layers of atmosphere. Similar to the way in which the sun will look orange or red on the horizon, when the moon is low in the sky, the light from it will have to pass through more of the blue-absorbing atmosphere to reach the viewer's eye. By this time, only yellow, orange and red light will remain unabsorbed.
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  • Do more 911 calls happen during a full moon?

    Q: Do more 911 calls happen during a full moon?

    A: Police officers and emergency room workers may provide anecdotal proof that 911 calls increase during a full moon, but there isn't any hard evidence to back up this assertion. Though many people assume that there is a connection between the full moon and crazy behavior, scientific research does not support this assumption.
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  • Do full moons really make us crazy?

    Q: Do full moons really make us crazy?

    A: Humans have long believed that there is a connection between a full moon and erratic behavior, but there is no scientific proof that this is the case. Even though no real evidence exists of the moon's crazy-making powers, many continue to believe that the two things are connected. This is known as "illusory correlation," in which people imagine that they see a logical connection where there isn't one.
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  • Why did we go to the moon?

    Q: Why did we go to the moon?

    A: One of the main reasons the United States sponsored a mission to the moon was because of the space race with Russia. Russia was the first country to put an artificial satellite in space, which caused a lot of embarrassment for the U.S.
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  • What does the moon smell like?

    Q: What does the moon smell like?

    A: According to NASA astronaut Gene Cernan, moon dust smells like gunpowder. No human has ever been on the moon without life support, and no one has taken a deep breath of pure, unfiltered moon air. However, Apollo 17 astronauts did perform some sniff tests with a moon dust sample they collected during their mission.
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  • How did the moon get its craters?

    Q: How did the moon get its craters?

    A: 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.
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  • What is the difference between the Earth and the moon?

    Q: What is the difference between the Earth and the moon?

    A: One of the many differences between the Earth and the moon is simply that the Earth is a planet and the moon orbits the Earth as its satellite. The Earth's circumference is 24,873.6 miles, while that of the moon is 6783.5 miles.
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  • How long does it take the moon to orbit the Earth?

    Q: How long does it take the moon to orbit the Earth?

    A: The Earth's moon takes 27 Earth days to completely orbit the Earth. A day on the moon is also equal to a little over 27 days on Earth.
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  • What is the temperature on the dark side of the Moon?

    Q: What is the temperature on the dark side of the Moon?

    A: Temperatures on the dark side of the moon average around negative 280 degrees Fahrenheit. This is do in part to the moon's lack of an atmosphere; there is no insulation to hold heat (on the far side) or soften the sun's rays (on the sun facing side).
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  • Why does the moon look orange?

    Q: Why does the moon look orange?

    A: Any time the moon appears orange in the sky, it's because of light diffusion and refraction in the atmosphere. When the moon is low in the sky, the blue light reflected from its surface is scattered in the dense atmosphere, giving the moon a reddish-orange cast.
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