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Top 10 Interesting and Fun Facts About the Moon

Amanda is a retired educator with many years of experience teaching children of all ages and abilities in various contexts.

The Moon

The Moon was once thought to shine by its own light. We now know, of course, that it reflects the light of the Sun. But even today, the sight of the Moon still inspires a sense of awe and wonder.

The Moon was once thought to shine by its own light. We now know, of course, that it reflects the light of the Sun. But even today, the sight of the Moon still inspires a sense of awe and wonder.

The Moon in Myths and Stories

In ancient times, many people thought the Moon shone by its own light.

We know now it only reflects the light of the Sun.

But before we come to look at the science of the Moon, let's take a trip back in time to find out what our ancestors made of the mysteries of the Moon in their myths, legends and stories.

Moon Goddess

We've all heard the idea still told to children today that there’s a "Man in the Moon" or that the Moon is made of cheese.

The man in the moon came down too soon

and asked his way to Norwich.

He went by the south and burned his mouth

while supping cold pease porridge.

— Traditional

In ancient times, however, the Moon was most often thought of as a god or a goddess.

Our ancestors considered the Sun and the Moon to be divine beings; one masculine, one feminine; one ruling the day, the other the night.

Lunar Goddess Image

Moon Myths of the World

In Alaska, the myths of the Inuit people talk of the Moon as a wicked god named Malina, the brother of the Sun. In their mythology the Sun is a goddess called Annigan.

Malina is cruel and chases his sister across the sky. But he spends all his time doing that and forgets to eat - so as the month wears on he gets thinner and thinner until he vanishes away altogether!

Watch the video below to learn a Korean myth about how the Sun and the Moon were created. Do any elements in this story remind you of stories you know from closer to home?

Korean Moon Myth

In Native American myths and stories, the Sun and the Moon are husband and wife. But the Sun is hungry and cruel and wants to eat their children, the stars. So, when he wakes in the morning, all the star-children run away. It is only at night, while he is sleeping, that the Moon can come out and play with her children.

But the Moon has not only inspired Native American stories. Here is a beautiful piece of Native American music played on the traditional wooden flute.

Native American Moon Song

The Sun and the Moon are thought of as man and wife in the Nigerian mythology from Africa.

The stories tell how they once lived on Earth among the people, but there came a great flood and they escaped into the sky, where they remain to this day.

Nigerian Moon Mask

This is an ancient Nigerian mask which may represent the Moon goddess.

This is an ancient Nigerian mask which may represent the Moon goddess.

In Kenya, the myths tell how the Sun and the Moon were both brothers, but they were always fighting and squabbling with each other.

One day, during one of their fights, the Moon fell into a swamp. Covered in mud, his light was dimmed.

Eventually God became so fed up with their constant battles that he separated them, putting one of them in the day and the other in the night.

Moon Myths of the Ancient Greeks

According to the mythology of the Ancient Greeks, the Moon Goddess was Artemis, the sister of Apollo, the Sun God.

The Ancient Greeks associated the Moon with darkness, dreams, mysteries and magic. They had several Moon Goddesses.

The Goddess of the “dark of the moon” was a terrifying figure named Hecate. She was Queen of the Underworld and all things spooky!

Moon Mysteries Investigated

Galileo, Telescopes and the Moon

The Moon remained a mystery for most of human history.

It was only in the sixteenth century, when an Italian astronomer called Galileo invented the telescope, that people could observe the Moon "up close" for the first time.

Galileo spent many months observing the Moon and recording his observations. He was the first to realize that the Moon was a solid satellite of the Earth, with its own valleys and mountains.

Apollo Moon Landing

Galileo first uncovered the mysteries of the Moon in 1608. 360 years later, in 1969, the Apollo Moon Mission landed the first people on the Earth's nearest satellite: the Moon.

Galileo first uncovered the mysteries of the Moon in 1608. 360 years later, in 1969, the Apollo Moon Mission landed the first people on the Earth's nearest satellite: the Moon.

His discovery paved the way to a complete revision of how the Earth and humanity fits into the scheme of the Universe. Secular science was born.

The Moon was no longer a goddess to worship or a “divine sphere”, but an astronomical object to study. It would be a mere three hundred sixty years later, in 1969, that the Apollo spacecraft landed the first humans on the Moon.

What do you think Galileo would have made of that?

Portrait of Galileo Galilei

Galileo was the first person to turn the eye of a telescope on the Moon and to discover that it was not a divine being but a satellite of the Earth and could be studied by astronomers.

Galileo was the first person to turn the eye of a telescope on the Moon and to discover that it was not a divine being but a satellite of the Earth and could be studied by astronomers.

The Science of the Moon

Now we've looked at the myths and legends that our ancestors created about the Moon and arrived at Galileo, the first lunar scientist, let's take a look at what we know about the Moon today.

Thanks to mathematicians, astronomers, chemists, geologists, cosmologists, astrophysicists and, of course, astronauts, science has discovered a great deal about the Moon.

So What is the Moon?

You've probably heard of "satellites" that orbit the Earth. Most of them are human made and shot up into space with rockets. You might think of radio satellites that beam your TV pictures around the world, or space exploration satellites that carry powerful telescopes.

Well, the Moon is the Earth's only natural satellite.

A "satellite" is any physical body that travels around another one. Which is why we also call our space stations and transmitters satellites. That's what they do!

How Was the Moon Formed?

Scientists have evidence to suggest the Moon may have first formed about the same time as the Earth.

4.3 billion years ago, while the Earth was still forming from the swirling particles left over by an exploding star, it collided with another 'heavenly body' about the size of the planet Mars.

This collision caused a scattering of loose Earth material to spin off into space. Caught in the Earth's gravitational field and swirled into terrestrial orbit, it condensed by its own gravity to become the Moon.

So now you know. Or maybe not. Science is a work-in-progress.

The fact is that scientists have a lot of evidence for this, but not enough to be certain. Although, some problems with understanding just how it all happened are getting clearer, as the following video explains:

Scientists Get Closer to Understanding How the Moon was Formed

The Phases of the Moon

We often talk about the Moon getting bigger and smaller during the month. We call this phenomenon “the phases of the Moon”. But the Moon isn't getting bigger and smaller at all. It only seems that way from Earth.

So, what are the phases of the Moon?

The Moon's Phases

The Moon has eight phases as seen from Earth.

The Moon has eight phases as seen from Earth.

Phases of the Moon Explained

Now, you remember that the Moon doesn't shine with its own light? It reflects the light of the Sun.

That means that how much of the lunar surface we can see depends on the relative positions of the Earth and the Moon to the Sun.

So, as the Earth (orbiting the Sun) and the Moon (orbiting the Earth) get closer to alignment, less and less of the lit-up side of the Moon is visible.

Little by little during the month, more shadow is cast over the Moon until, when the Sun, Earth and Moon line up, with the Moon between the Sun and the Earth, it blocks the sunlight altogether and the Moon seems to disappear!

Then, as we pass over the other side, the lit-up side gets bigger and bigger, until we line up again but this time with the Earth in-between the Sun and the Moon. Then we have the Full Moon.

Still not sure how this works? Or do you prefer to see a picture? Watch this video animation which explains all the phases of the Moon:

Why Does the Moon Change Shape?

Lunar Orbit

The Moon orbits the earth because of the Earth's gravity. But it doesn't go around us in a perfect circle. It travels along a more-or-less egg-shaped orbit. We call this orbit, elliptical.

The Moon also spins on its own axis, just as the Earth does. The time needed to make one full turn on its axis is the same as it takes to orbit the Earth once. What that means, is that from Earth, we can only ever see one side of the Moon!

The other side, which we cannot see from our home planet, we know as the “dark side of the Moon”.

The Moon and the Tides

Have you ever spent any time by the sea? Have you ever wondered why the ocean has tides and how the tides go in and out?

The answer lies in the effect of the Moon's gravity on the surface waters of the Earth.

Sounds amazing? Well, yes. Let's look at this phenomenon to see if we can understand it.

How Does the Moon Affect the Tides?

Most coastal waters experience two daily tides known as high tide (when the water level is at its highest) and low tide (when the water level is at its lowest).

But how does the Moon exert its influence on the movement of water? How does the Moon effect the tides?

Well, I'm going to let the guys from Test Tube (which is a handy little channel for bite-size explanations of complicated science, if you're interested) give you the information you need. Watch:

The Tides Explained

The Eagle Has Landed!

That brings us to near the end of our moonwalk, our look at the top ten most interesting and fun facts about the Moon.

Moon Poll

But before you go, watch this iconic film of the first time humans set foot on that extraordinary satellite which has fascinated humankind since we first looked up to night sky.

Answer the Moon poll, too. It's great to know what you think!

Now, watch the video below:

The First Men on the Moon

One Question Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Is the Moon really made of cheese?
    • No
    • Yes

Answer Key

  1. No

© 2014 Amanda Littlejohn

Have something to say or a question to ask? Don't be shy! I love your comments and always reply.

Amanda Littlejohn (author) on December 24, 2014:

Hi Alun!

Thank you so much for your lovely contribution to this article about the Moon - or moons, as we now know. I agree with you that these things are indeed wonders that we seem to take for granted because we have become so familiar with them. That's one of the things I love about science, that it teaches us to continually look afresh at what we thought we knew and experience the wonder and the majesty of nature all over again.

Bless you :)

Greensleeves Hubs from Essex, UK on December 23, 2014:

When one thinks about it Amanda, the Moon ought to be just about the most astonishing thing one could ever see with the naked eye - an entire world, complete with mountains and valleys and plains and craters - all can be seen with just a glance. But it's just too familiar for people to appreciate it for what it is.

Your page covers all the main points of interest which may appeal to younger readers, and hopefully it will inspire a few to look a little closer at our nearest neighbour in space. And a few adult readers too! Alun

Amanda Littlejohn (author) on October 02, 2014:

Thanks, Crystal.

I'm glad you're enjoying it!

Bless you :)

Crystal Tatum from Georgia on October 02, 2014:

You've got a great series going here. Very interesting and entertaining.

Amanda Littlejohn (author) on October 01, 2014:

Well, thank you, James!

I hadn't thought about Hallowe'en just yet! But yes, I can see the connexion. I hope that you and your kids find this hubs interesting and have fun with it.

Bless you :)

James Timothy Peters from Hammond, Indiana on October 01, 2014:

This is an excellent HUB to read to the little ones, especially with Halloween right around the corner. Great job!

Amanda Littlejohn (author) on September 17, 2014:

Hi Nadine,

Thanks for reading this article about the Moon and for leaving such a fascinating comment. It's an interesting idea. Although personally, I would be very cautious - for all kinds of reasons that would go way beyond the remit of a hub comment - of interpreting ancient Sumerian mythology as being descriptive of pre-ancient astronomical events.

The myths referred to make fascinating reading, but more perhaps for the clear parallels in them with later Biblical creation myths, two different versions of which are preserved in the books we now call Genesis. The Biblical authors borrowed liberally from the mythological heritage of Mesopotamia.

Thanks again for your contribution. Bless you :)

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on September 17, 2014:

Again an fantastic article. Learned a lot and I will share it. It could be that 4.3 billion years ago, according to the Ancient Sumerian texts it was that Tiamat ( The Earth was the planet which the Sumerians called Tiamat ) was struck by a large planet (The planet "Marduk" ) and this collision created the Earth's moon and the Asteroid Belt.

Amanda Littlejohn (author) on September 11, 2014:

Hi Sparrowlet!

Great that you enjoyed this article about the Moon - and I'm glad you found a few interesting surprises here, too!

Many thanks for your generous comments. Bless you :)

Katharine L Sparrow from Massachusetts, USA on September 10, 2014:

Wow! What a lot of info here! So many facts I didn't know, and I'm not uneducated! I loved learning that we have another teeny weeny moon! I didn't know that! You are a great writer and this hub is so jam-packed with info it took me a while to get through it... and I enjoyed every minute! Great job.

Amanda Littlejohn (author) on September 08, 2014:

Hi Tom!

Thanks for your comment. Yes, the Moon landings do seem lifetimes ago - and we've come so far and so fast in terms of space exploration since then - even though we tend to send robots these days.

I was in my late teens in 1969!

Bless you :)

Amanda Littlejohn (author) on September 08, 2014:

Hi Laura335!

I hope science class was a happy place! I do think the Moon is always an interesting topic to come back to, especially as we continue to discover so much more about it.

Bless you :)

Amanda Littlejohn (author) on September 08, 2014:

Hi Hezekiah!

Thanks for your comment. I'm glad you enjoyed learning about the Moon - and I hope your kids enjoy it, too.

Bless you :)

Russell Pittock from Nakon Sawan Province, Thailand. on September 08, 2014:

Great hub with some interesting facts and figures. It seems so long ago that we landed on the moon. I can still remember being allowed to stay up late to watch the landing.

Laura Smith from Pittsburgh, PA on September 08, 2014:

This takes me back to science class. This was very simple but interesting and informative.

Hezekiah from Japan on September 08, 2014:

Thanks a lot for the amazing facts there something nice to share with the kids.

Amanda Littlejohn (author) on September 08, 2014:

Hi JuiceMet!

Yes, the Supermoon phenomenon has been creating quite a media stir as well as offering us all a great opportunity to look up in wonder at the Universe beyond our little planet!

Our second Moon is, of course, far too small to see.

Thanks so much for your comment. Bless you :)

Jessica from Cranston, Rhode Island on September 08, 2014:

What a great hub! I didn't know about the 2nd moon and I found all your video's about the mythology utterly fascinating. Just in time for this years final SUPERMOON! Thanks for the great hub! :)

Amanda Littlejohn (author) on September 08, 2014:

Hi MPGNarratives!

Thanks for your comment. I'm glad that you learned something new in this look at some of the most interesting facts about the Moon.

I find the science of how the tides are influenced by the Moon especially interesting so I'm glad you found that useful, too.

Bless you :)

Amanda Littlejohn (author) on September 08, 2014:

Hi AliciaC!

Thanks for reading this article about the Moon and for taking the time to comment! I'm glad you learned something new here, too. The Moon myths are quite fascinating, aren't they? And it is often a surprise to folks that not all 'lunar deities' were goddesses but many of them gods, too.

Thanks again for your contribution. Bless you :)

Maria Giunta from Sydney, Australia on September 08, 2014:

Some very interesting facts here, a did know some of them but you have increased my knowledge, especially about tides. Oh, and now I know where the word 'lunatics' comes from. Voted up and useful.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 07, 2014:

Thanks for an interesting and very informative hub. I loved the myths!

Amanda Littlejohn (author) on September 07, 2014:

Hi Jyoti!

Thanks for reading and your interesting comment. I have heard of Jainism, but must confess that I don't know a great deal about it - India has such a rich cultural heritage.

What an extraordinary coincidence about the Moons!

Thanks again for you contribution. Bless you :)

Jyoti Kothari from Jaipur on September 06, 2014:

Nice and informative. A surprising fact is that Jain (an ancient Religion from India) canons speak of two moons!!

Rated up and interesting!

Amanda Littlejohn (author) on September 05, 2014:

Hi Carrie!

Thanks for reading and commenting - glad you learned something new about the Moon - or moons, as you say!

Bless you. :)

Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on September 05, 2014:

Interesting facts ! Never heard we have two moons :). Good stuff. Thank you for sharing.

Amanda Littlejohn (author) on September 05, 2014:

Hi DealForALiving!

Glad you enjoyed the videos and finding out about Native and Korean myths of the Moon.

Thanks for commenting. Bless you :)

Amanda Littlejohn (author) on September 05, 2014:

Hi Relationshipc!

Thanks for your contribution to this article about the Moon.

It is fascinating, isn't it, to get a perspective on other cultures through their myths and legends? Especially with the Moon, because wherever we are in the world and at whatever point in history, we all see not only the same Moon, but the same side of the Moon, too!

And yes, it takes about a month for the Moon to orbit the Earth. That is where the word 'month' comes from. It means, 'a moon's worth'.

Bless you :)

Nick Deal from Earth on September 05, 2014:

Really well research hubs and I especially enjoyed the videos you found with the Native American and Korean moon myths.

Kari on September 05, 2014:

I love the Korean myth. Putting the kids to work as the sun and moon - I wonder what I would have pictured when I looked at the moon as a kid with that story?

I do remember staring at the face for hours as I tried to fall asleep. And, of course, I remember thinking the moon was cheese.

I've never thought so much about the moon before! Now I understand why we have a full moon, half moon, etc. every month. The moon takes about a month to orbit Earth. Very cool...

Amanda Littlejohn (author) on September 05, 2014:

Hi Bill!

Many thanks and I'm happy you enjoyed it.

Bless you. :)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 05, 2014:

Well you didn't lie. Those were fun and interesting facts. :)

Amanda Littlejohn (author) on September 05, 2014:

Hi villyvacker!

Thanks for your comment - so glad you found it interesting.

Bless you :)

Amanda Littlejohn (author) on September 05, 2014:

Hi Shelley!

Thank you for you kind words. I'm happy that you found this article about the Moon to be interesting and that you learned something new here today!

Very few people do know about Earth's second Moon, of course. It's quite specialist knowledge.

Thanks for sharing it, too - I really do appreciate that.

Bless you :)

Billy Turnock from Manchester England on September 05, 2014:

A great article, a comprehensive study of the moon. I find these kind of articles fascinating and yours is just the kind I like.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 05, 2014:

Wonderfully informative and engaging hub, Mindi. I wasn't aware of the existence of Cruithne. Voted up and more, plus pinning and sharing.