Sunday, May 8, 2011

A look at the Moon - A vital companion

The Moon
Distance from Earth: 380,000 km
Circumference: 11,000 km
Mass: 7.36 x 10^22 kg
Day length: 27.3 Earth days
Temp: 270º F during the day
         -240º F at night

We owe our existence to the moon, just as much as we do the sun. The moon controls the ebb & flow of Earth's tides, stabilizes & slows our rotation, provides "moonlight", and has served as a navigational tool & timepiece for ancient civilizations to present day.

Life without the moon would be very different. Besides the obvious stuff, like no moonlight (complete & utter pitch black nights), and no natural navigational tool & timepiece, tides would be very different. We would still have tides, but they would be affected by the sun, and thus the difference between high & low tides would be reduced dramatically.

Add to this the fact there would be no stabilization of our axial tilt & rotation, we would wobble about randomly at the whims of the sun and other neighboring planets. Needless to say we would be in some deep shit then. Life on Earth is very sensitive to the stable, consistent 23.5º axial tilt. This would affect seasons, crops, ecosystems, and eventually the way life as we know it flourishes. Life would be very....very different indeed.

IF any life was capable of thriving, given these conditions, they would then have to deal with gale force winds. Earth's rotation would be much faster, and an average day length would be approx. 6 hours.

It has been observed that the moon is actually spiraling away from us at a rate of 3.8 mm each year. It is theorized that either the moon will eventually leave Earth's gravitational influence and proceed to fly in to space, or the moon's elliptical orbit will significantly increase. This would mean we still have our moon, but its effects on Earth are halved.

Given the timescale for these events to occur, we are more likely closer to seeing our sun go red giant on us first, which most natives of Earth would agree, is more worthy of their attention.

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