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17 Aug 2017

Destination Moon

We currently have Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon on display until Sunday 20th August which has been incredible popular with visitors. I’ve enjoyed providing our audiences with amazing moon facts and decided to share a blog with everybody too, so why not have a read? 

Before the Moon facts let me share some info with you on Museum of the Moon.

Museum of the Moon by Luke Jerram…..this replica of the Moon has the WOW factor!

You simply have to admire how artist Luke Jerram put it all together. Luke used detailed NASA, (The American Space Agency) imagery of the lunar surface to create a replica measuring 7 metres in diameter at an approximate scale of 1: 500,000, with each centimetre of the spherical sculpture representing 5km of the Moon’s surface.

Two visitor silhouetted by the museum of the moon

Inspiring Moon

The Moon has been a source of inspiration over the years, through, art, songs, books, television and films etc. One of my favourite songs, Fly me to the Moon was recorded by American Singer and Actor, Frank Sinatra in 1964 at the height of the space race between the Americans and the Russians to see who would first land on the Moon.

Another of my favourite moon inspired things was the television series Space 1999, which was produced by Gerry and Syvia Anderson, who were the creators of television legends, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlett, Joe 90 to name a few. Space 1999 was about a base on the Moon, moon base alpha to be precise, the Moon was blown from our orbit and became a travelling moon, with the crew of alpha having many adventures throughout the universe. The crew’s commander was John Koenig played by American actor Martin Landau. 

Moon Facts

The Birth of the Moon…Let’s go back...4.5 Billion years ago!

Scientists have come up with this theory. When our planet Earth was only 50 million years young, a planet in another orbit hit our Earth. The impact caused it to explode and the rock, dust and gas went out to form a ring around our Earth (just like the rings of planet Saturn). Eventually the rock, gas and dust formed a ball shape and remained in orbit around our planet Earth to form our Moon!

Anyway, what is a moon?

Moons are natural satellites of planets. Most are small rock globes that continually orbit the parent planet, held in space by the planet’s gravity. A total of over 150 moons orbit the 8 major planets of the solar system. Every planet in the solar system has a moon, apart from Mercury and Venus, the nearest planets to the sun. The largest moon in the solar system is Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. Earth is the only planet with a moon so large compared with its own size and the Moon is a quarter of the size of Earth! 

I’m off for a week, I’m going to the Moon!

It will take you 3 days to get there and 3 days to get back again, meaning you will have just 1 day on the Moon. You will need to travel at 25,000 mph in order to cover the 238,000 miles / 384,000 km there and back again! 

Did you know, we know more about our Moon than our deepest oceans?

Yes that’s true, the Moon has been photographed all over its surface unlike our oceans, a bit to do with all that sea in the way! Talking of sea, the moon has an influence on our seas!

The Moon’s influence on Earth

The ebb and flow of tides around the world’s coasts are a daily reminder of the Moon’s influence on our Earth. The Moon’s gravity pulling on Earth is the principal cause of ocean tides. It distorts Earth’s rocky ball by a just a few centimetres, but stretches the oceans by around 1 – 3 metres (3 – 10 feet). The Moon’s gravity is 1/6 of the Earth’s.

The Moon’s moving away from us; don’t worry, not by much!

Yes that’s true, the constant drag of tides is slowing Earth’s rotation and causing the Moon’s orbit to widen. Days are lengthening by about 2 milliseconds per century and the Moon moves about 3.8 cm (1.5 inches) farther away each year.

Calendar Moon - Thank you Moon, for our 12 month calendar!

The common calendar that we use is based on the yearly orbit of Earth around the sun, which gives us our seasons and on Earth’s daily rotation which gives us day and night. The division of a year into months comes from the Moon’s orbit.

The surface of the Moon, including Birmingham!

The surface of the Moon is made up of grey areas known as seas, not like what we know as seas, because that is what people once believed they were. They are, in fact, lava flows from ancient volcanoes. The white areas which are known as highlands. There are a lot of craters, most of them named after scientists, including one named Birmingham, after John Birmingham, an astronomer. The biggest crater is Tycho and is 52 miles wide and can be seen with our own eyes from Earth. The Moon’s diameter is 2,160 miles / 3,476 km.

The shy Moon

One side of the Moon is always turned away from us and is called its far side. This is because the Moon spins round on its axis at exactly the same speed that it orbits the Earth. This is called synchronous rotation. Actually we only ever see 55% of our Moon.

The hot and cold Moon

The daytime temperature on the Moon is 110 degrees Celsius and at night time the temperature drops down to -170 degrees Celsius.

Men on the Moon

Only 12 men have walked on the surface of the Moon between July 1969 to December 1972. These men were American Astronauts, who were part of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Apollo space program. NASA was set up in 1958 and through space programs, Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, It had to learn what happened when astronauts spent many days in space. It had to learn how astronauts could go outside a spacecraft in a spacesuit. It had to learn how to connect two spacecraft together in space. Going to the Moon would require doing all of these things.

The first Moon landing occurred on July 20, 1969, on the Apollo 11 mission. The landing was in an area of the Moon known as the Sea of Tranquillity. The crew of Apollo 11 was Commander Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin. Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the lunar surface while Collins remained in orbit around the Moon. When Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon, he said, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

After Apollo 11, there were 5 more Moon landings and Apollo 17 was the last manned mission to the Moon in December 1972, and the crew were, Commander Eugene Cernan, Ron Evans and a scientist, Harrison Schmitt, who discovered red dust, which proved that there had been volcanic activity on the Moon. Apollo 13 was a near disaster and did not land on the Moon, but the crew returned safely. The crews of Apollo 15, 16 and 17 used lunar roving vehicles, which doubled the time that could be spent on the lunar surface and increased the area astronauts could explore. There were going to be Apollo’s 18, 19 and 20, but they were cut by the American government in 1970, due to the Apollo space program costing billions of dollars.

The Russians gave up landing a man on the Moon after the Americans had beaten them, this was in part due one of their chief scientists dying. The Russians concentrated on landing unmanned probes on the Moon instead. China is the only other country to land on the Moon landing a probe in 2013.

Return of men, first women to the Moon - The Future - Project Constellation

  • 2020’s – NASA are planning a return to the Moon in the 2020’s, approximately in 2024 and the name of this space program is called Project Constellation.
  • 2030’s - NASA will then use the moon base as a platform for working to go onto Mars.

Here’s to our Moon, next time you look up and see it, say a big thanks!

I dedicate this blog to Commander Eugene Cernan of Apollo 17 and American Actor, Marin Landau, who played Commander John Koenig from 1970’s TV series Space 1999 – both men sadly passed away this year.

I hope you enjoyed reading, best wishes, kind regards Steve.