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What’s in a moon?

1 Jul 2019, 08:30 UTC
What’s in a moon?
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Look up at the heavens after the Sun goes down, and one object in the Earth’s night sky will outshine all the others combined: our Moon. Although traditional stories ascribe many human and animal behaviours to the Moon – such as “lunacy”, nighttime howling and even menstrual cycles – those have long been debunked by science. Still, the Moon is much more than a pretty light in the sky, and is responsible for many phenomena beyond the tides. Predating humanity by some 4.5 billion years, our giant lunar companion is almost as old as the solar system itself. Without it, planet Earth just wouldn’t be the same.
When our solar system first formed, our infant Sun was surrounded by a collection of gas and dust: our protoplanetary disc. As gravitation worked to clump that matter together and grow it into planets, radiation from our star worked against us, blowing much of that material back into interstellar space. In the aftermath of our chaotic infancy, a system of spinning planets and smaller bodies remained, all orbiting the Sun in a great gravitational dance. Over time, they pushed and pulled on each other, with some objects migrating and others getting kicked out ...

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