Why is The Moon Called The Moon? – Basic Facts About Our Moon, (Kids Friendly, including video)

The source of the Moon’s name is a fascinating story. Humans have been aware of this large white orb in the sky since they first roamed the Earth.

The Moon’s face changes as the months’ pass. It moves through different phases from full Moon to new Moon, and then back again.

Where Did The Word Moon Come From?

The Earth has just one Moon. It is best known as the Moon in the English-speaking world because people used the Moon to measure the passing of the months in ancient times.

The word moon can be traced to the word mōna, an Old English word from medieval times. Mōna shares its origins with the Latin words metri, which means to measure, and mensis, which means month.

So, we see that the Moon is called the Moon because it is used to measure the months.

The Famous Astronomer Galileo’s Discovery

Then, why do the moons orbiting other planets have names, while ours is just named the Moon?

When the Moon was named, people just knew about our own Moon. That all changed in 1610 when the famous Italian astronomer named Galileo Galilei discovered what we now understand as Jupiter’s four largest moons.

Other astronomers across Europe discovered five moons around Saturn during the 1600s. And those objects became known as moons because they were close to their planets, as our own Moon is close to Earth.

It’s reasonable to say that other moons are named after our Moon.

The newly discovered satellites were given divine names to identify them among the increasing number of planets, and moons astronomers were finding in the solar system.

So, many of those names came from Greek myths. And the four big moons astronomer Galilei discovered around Jupiter were named Io, Ganymede, Europa, and Callisto.

How Big is The Moon?

Our own Moon is approximately 2,000 miles across.

How Old is The Moon?

The Moon is the same age as Earth and the rest of our solar system around 4.5 billion years. The solar system was formed at that time.

How Did The Moon Form?

We believe that our Moon and Earth formed at about the same time when our solar system was formed. The Earth was created from many chunks of icy material and rock. A large chunk probably hit the new Earth and knocked loose a big piece, which became the Moon.

How Far is It From Planet Earth to The Moon?

It is approximately 250,000 miles from Earth to the Moon.

How Cold and Hot Does it Get on The Moon?

Our Moon doesn’t have any air around it. The air that surrounds our Earth works as a blanket to keep us comfy and warm. But the Moon gets much colder than the Earth and much hotter than the Earth. Our sun is shining on the side of the lunar surface, and the temperature reaches up to 260°Fahrenheit. And that is hotter than boiling. And on the dark side of the Moon, it gets freezing cold, around -280° Fahrenheit.

Footprint on the moon. 
Credit: NASA.

What is The Surface of The Moon Like?

The surface of the Moon has approximately two inches of dust. Much of this Moondust has fallen to the Moon from space between the planets over the last several billion years. It apparently feels pretty soft. You can notice this in any pictures taken by the Apollo astronauts of their footprints on the lunar surface.

Why Does The Moon Have Big Rocks?

Our Moon is made of various kinds of Moonrocks. These lunar rocks are relatively similar to the rocks on Earth. But on the Earth, we have rain and wind that help wear the rocks down into sand and dirt. But there is no wind and air on the Moon; therefore, the rocks don’t get worn down as they do on the Earth.

How Many Moons Are There Altogether?

The Earth has just one Moon. If you count all the moons around all the planets in the solar system, there are 61 altogether. Earth has one, Mars has two, Jupiter has sixteen, and Saturn has eighteen, Uranus has fifteen, Neptune has eight, and Pluto has one. But there may be more out there that we haven’t discovered yet.

Craters on the moon, credit:Canva/NASA.

How Many Craters Are in The Moon?

Many years ago, they were the places where meteors crashed the Moon surface and put dents into it. And there are thousands of huge craters, but even more tiny ones. So, there are presumably millions of small craters on the lunar surface. Some are just an inch or so across.

What is a Lunar Eclipse? And What is a Solar Eclipse?

Anytime there are three bodies, the sun, the Moon, or a planet, lined up that one blocks the light from another, we call it an eclipse. Through a solar eclipse, our own Moon passes between the Earth and the sun and blocks the sunlight. 

Through a lunar eclipse, our Earth blocks the sun’s light that usually lights up the Moon. Because we are standing on Earth, what we see is that the Moon gets dark. Other sorts of eclipses occur too. For instance, if you were standing on Jupiter (kind of hard, but we can imagine), you might view one of its moons eclipse the sun.

How Come We Can Sometimes See The Moon During The Day?

You can not see the stars throughout the day because the sky is too bright. Sunlight spreads around in the air and makes the sky look bright blue. However, if you had a telescope and aimed it at a shining star, you could yet see it during the day.

The stars are still there, but they are just hard to see. But our Moon is bright enough that you can see it throughout the day or night. It orbits Earth once every twenty-nine days. Consequently, throughout some of that time, it is easiest to see during the day and sometimes during the night.

Why Does The Moon Change its Shape – Full, Half, and Quarter Moon?

The illuminated part of the Moon is the part that the sun is reflecting on. It is like daytime on Earth. The dark part is in shadow, is like a night on Earth. Now the Moon goes around the Earth once every 29 days (roughly).

At the new Moon, our Moon and the sun are on the same side of our Earth. We can see the part of our Moon that is in shadow; therefore, the Moon is dark. Later the Moon moves around in its orbit. In the first quarter, it has gone one-fourth of the way around Earth.

Now you can see sunlit part of the Moon, but part still in shadow. Note if the sun is setting in the west, the brilliant part of our Moon is on the side toward the sun, and the dark part is away.

Around a week later, our Moon has moved halfway around its orbit. It is on the opposite side of Earth now, away from the sun. Now you can see only the sunlit side, and that is the full Moon. Note that if the sun is setting in the west, the Moon is just rising in the east.

Nearly a week later, our Moon has passed now three-fourths of the way around in its orbit around the Earth. And once again, only part of our Moon is sunlit, and part is dark. Now you can see the Moon in the morning and note that once again, the sunlit side is on the side towards the sun, and the shadow side away. And after another week and we are back to the new Moon again.

Does it Ever Rain or Snow on The Moon or The Other Planets of Our Solar System?

To have rain or snow, we need to have an atmosphere and water of some kind. And our Moon has no atmosphere. Therefore, it has no weather at all. Mars has only a thin atmosphere, but it does have weather. Powerful winds can blow up big dust storms.

Images from the Mariner spacecraft reveal that sometimes light frost forms on the Mars surface. Sometimes just after the Martian dawn, we can see an icy fog arising from the craters. I believe that it is too cold for rain, but icy and frost have been seen. Mars also has polar caps of iced water and carbon dioxide, “dry ice.” Maybe it snows at the polar caps.

The atmosphere of planet Venus is very thick and extremely hot. There is little water in Venus clouds but no rain. Mercury has zero atmospheres. And the outer planets like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto are very cold. And their atmospheres are mainly made up of methane, nitrogen, ammonia, and a material like that.

There are plausibly some ice crystals in their atmospheres too, but they presumably just blow around in the strong winds. There might be a sort of “snow” but not very much similar to what we are used to on Earth.

Does The Moon Have Volcanoes?

Yes, our Moon has some volcanoes. However, as far as we know, they are all non-active volcanoes that have not erupted for millions of years. Most of the lunar craters are from the surface being hit by comets and asteroids billions of years ago. 

Our Moon is a pretty “quiet” place. There is no water or air to erode the lunar surface. And there are no volcanoes and earthquakes to change the Moon’s surface. Just the smallest rocks may still hit the lunar surface.

Therefore it has not changed much in billions of years. Presumably, the most significant changes recently are the footprints from the Apollo astronauts that visited the Moon about 50 years ago.

Is There Water on The Moon?

Water that would be found on the lunar surface may have existed from the days when the solar system was created. Comets that may have smashed into the Moon could also be a source of water. Generally, we think water that was part of the Moon as it formed would have reasonably evaporated away. Furthermore, water from comets would have evaporated too. 

Nevertheless, the area where Clementine found the possible signature of water is at the icy south pole of the Moon, in a dark, deep cratered area where the sun never shines. Therefore it seems likely that the water (or ice) has survived there.

And we are hoping that other measurements can be made with other satellites that can verify whether this is really water on the lunar surface. If so, it would be an excellent help for manned space travel in our solar system.

If There is No Atmosphere or Weather The Moon, Then Where Does The Ice Come From?

We believe that the ice on the lunar surface came from comets. Comets are made up of ice with some dirt and rocks mixed in. We believe that most of the water on Earth presumably came from comets that smashed into the Earth when our Earth was very young.

The ice on the lunar surface may have happened the same way. Most of the water on the lunar surface evaporated away a long time ago, although the ice at the South Pole lingered there because it is freezing cold and is in a dark area where the sun never shines.

Can You Plant Something on The Moon?

You could plant something, but it would surely die because there is no atmosphere (it requires carbon dioxide) and no water. The sunlight would burn it through the lunar day, and in the nighttime, it would freeze.

The lunar soil would not provide the nutrients that it would need, because it is just rock dust. There are no organic elements that earth plants need to make nitrogen. Life on Earth is extraordinary and very precious.

Is The Moon Moving Away From Earth?

Yes, but it is moving only about an inch farther away each year.

If a Man Was Walking on The Moon and He Picked Up a Rock and Threw it Really Hard, Would it Go Past The Moon’s Atmosphere?

The gravity on the lunar surface is one-sixth of Earth’s, so the astronaut could surely throw that rock a lot farther. Did you know that one of the astronauts took a golf club to the Moon and hit a golf ball a long way?

Even so, the gravity was strong enough that the rock or ball or would not go into orbit or leave the Moon. However, it would go six times as far.

Why Are Parts of The Moon Called Seas?

The astronomer Galileo was responsible for classifying the major features on the lunar surface. You may know that he was the first human to scrutinize the night sky using a telescope.

He imagined the dark, flat areas were seas and called them “maria.” That is Latin for seas; “mare” is the singular. The first Apollo Moon landing occurred in Mare Tranquilitatis or the Sea of Tranquility. We know now that there are no seas. The “seas” seem flat from old lava flows. But the names stayed.

How Long Would it Take to Fly in a 747 to The Moon?

Of course, we know that this can’t occur because there is no air, and a plane couldn’t fly fast enough to leave the Earth’s gravity, although we can pretend. A 747 airplane flies typically at about 400 miles per hour.

Our Moon is approximately 250,000 miles away. So if we divide 250,000 by 400, we see that the plane would take 625 hours or 26 days to fly to the Moon. And that would be a long trip— twenty-six days of eating airline food.

In a Spaceship, How Long Does it Take to Get to The Moon?

It depends on how fast the spaceship can go. When NASA’s Apollo astronauts went to the Moon, it took around two days.

What is “The Man in The Moon”?

Have you stared at the Moon and noticed the dark patches? Some think that they make the Moon seem like it has two eyes and a big smile. So, the next time the Moon is almost full, it would be a good time to look in the early evening at the Moon and see if you can see the “the man in the Moon.”

In other cultures, they see different things on the Moon. The Japanese talk about the rabbit on the Moon. I have looked at the Moon and noticed the “rabbit,” too. It looks like a rabbit is walking up the left side of the Moon. You might want to look for the rabbit also.

Why Does The Moon Affect The Tides?

The Moon causes tides. The tides occur due to the pull of the Moon’s gravity. On the side of our Earth nearest the Moon, our Moon’s gravity is the strongest, and it draws up the water slightly (high tide).

And on the side of Earth furthest away from our Moon, the Moon’s gravity is the weakest, and the water moves a little away from the Moon (which is also called high tide). And this further affects Earth itself. Throughout high tide, Earth rises by an inch or two, but not enough for us to notice.

Summary of Moon Facts (Kids Friendly)

Our Moon is the Earth’s only satellite. A typical satellite is a space body that orbits a planet, an asteroid, or a planet-like object.

The medium distance from the Earth to the Moon is 384403 kilometers or 238857 miles.

It is the fifth-largest Moon in our Solar System.

Mons Huygens is the highest mountain on the lunar surface, it is 4700 meters tall, merely over half the height of Mt Everest or 8848m.

Our Moon circles the Earth every 27.3 days.

The side that we can see from our Earth is called the near side, and the other side is called the far side. It is sometimes termed the dark side even though it illuminated by our Sun just as much as the near side.

The effect of gravity is only approximately one fifth (17%) as strong on the surface of the Moon related to the strength of gravity on the surface of the Earth.

Our Moon revolves on its axis in about the same length of time it takes to circle the Earth. And it means that from Earth we simply ever see about 60% of its surface. It means 50% at any one time.

NASA’s Apollo 11 mission in 1969 was the first manned Moon landing.

The Soviet’s Luna Moon program featured the first successful landing of an unmanned spacecraft on the lunar surface in 1966.

The far side of the lunar surface looks very different due to its lack of maria. That is ancient pools of solidified lava.

Although investigations are continuing, most scientists accept that the Moon features small amounts of water.

Commander Neil Armstrong Apollo 11, first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969. 
Credit: Wikipedia/NASA.
Commander Neil Armstrong Apollo 11, first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
Credit: Wikipedia/NASA.

The first man to ever set foot on the Moon was Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong.

The lunar surface features a vast number of impact craters from asteroid and comets, which have hit the lunar surface over a long time. Because our Moon lacks an atmosphere or weather, these craters continue to be well preserved.

A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth is between the Sun and the Moon.

The Moon is extremely hot during the day but very cold at night. The Moon’s average surface temperatureMoon is 107 degrees Celsius during the day and -153 degrees Celsius at night.

The gravitational pull of the Moon largely causes the Earth’s tides.

The phases of the Moon are New Moon, Crescent, First Quarter, Waxing Gibbous, Full Moon, Waning Gibbous, Last Quarter, Crescent, New Moon.

Thanks for reading this article. If you want to know more about the Moon, then head over to this article; 11 Things You Didn’t Know About the Moon.

Watch this video below from Bright Side – Amazing Moon Facts You Know Nothing About.

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