Everyone has grown up looking at the night sky and seeing the face of the man in the moon. Depending upon where you live on the planet, the face may appear at a different angle. No matter where you live, we know that when night time comes, we will see his familiar face, shining down on the earth. It is always there and always facing us in the same way.
It is believed that when the moon was created, it was due to a collision between the early developing earth and another planetoid called Theia. The blast was so huge that part of the debris that spun off slowly collected together and formed the moon. Unlike the earth, the moon doesn’t have a hot core, which is one of the main reasons we have life on earth.
Scientists are still trying to figure out how the developing cold moon got locked into the orbit around the earth. The one thing that is certain is that it doesn’t rotate, like the earth does, and therefore every time we look up to the moon, we see the same side facing us. Some scientists believe that in the early development of the moon, it may have rotated, but for some reason, it stopped.
The craters and mountains on the moon were made during its early creation. Earth had the same kind of craters and mountains, but ours have eroded due to the atmosphere causing wind and rain. The moon doesn’t have an atmosphere, so unless an asteroid or comet hits the surface of the moon, everything remains the same. When we look up at the moon, we think we see the face of the man in the moon, but it is actually just an illusion. We are really looking at the mountains and craters that are in specific places that resemble a human face.
We might think that the moon is a perfect sphere, but that is another illusion. As it cooled, it actually became elongated at both ends due to the pull from earth’s gravity. The ‘face’ of the man in the moon extends down on one of those elongated ends and because it never turns, it is always facing us.
It is thought that a couple of billion years ago, the moon actually rotated on its axis at a sharper angle than the current axis. If there had been any people living on the earth at that time, they would have seen the moon looking completely different than we do today. At that time, different sides of the moon would have been showing. Scientists also think that the moon had a rotation, but over many years, earth’s gravity slowed it down and it is by sheer coincidence that the face of the man in the moon appears pointing towards earth.
The other side of the moon, that we never see, is called ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’. Part of the future missions that are planned will be to include more satellites to explore this other side. Since it is does not have any light reflected by the sun, special technology will have to be used to examine the surface and see if it is any different from the side that faces the earth.