Almost 50 years ago, two men did what no one had ever done before: walked on the lunar surface.
When they landed on the Moon, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left behind an American flag and plaque that read: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”
In seven missions between 1969 and 1972, a dozen astronauts walked on the Moon, with the help of six pilots. According to the European Space Agency, they’ve brought back more than 800 pounds of moon rocks, soil and other material from the lunar surface.
But the Moon was an object of fascination long before anyone landed on its surface.
How much do you know about the Earth’s closest neighbor? Test yourself with these trivia questions; find the answers at the end.
- How many moon landers and moon rovers have visited the lunar surface?
- What shape is the Moon?
- How long did it take astronauts to reach the Moon?
- How far away from Earth was the Moon when it first formed?
- What color is the sky when standing on the lunar surface?
- How long does it take to radio the Moon?
- What are lunar flashes, also known as “transient lunar phenomena”?
- How old is the Moon?
- How much would you weigh on the lunar surface?
Don’t forget to catch tonight’s Super Wolf Blood Moon and total lunar eclipse, which will be visible from the Americas.
- 19 landers and six rovers have landed on the Moon.
- The Moon looks round from Earth, so you might assume it’s shaped like a sphere – but it’s actually egg-shaped, according to a 2014 study published in the journal Nature. One of the smaller ends is pointed toward Earth, so it looks rounder than it actually is.
- It took the Apollo missions approximately three days to journey from Earth to the Moon.
- The Moon was originally about 14,000 miles from Earth, but is now 238,900 miles away, scientists told the BBC in 2011. It’s moving away from Earth at a rate of about 1.48 inches per year.
- Because the moon has very little atmosphere, the sky appears black. Earth’s blue sky is created by light passing through the atmosphere.
- According to the ESA, it takes about 1.27 seconds for a radio signal to reach the lunar surface from Earth. It would take another 1.27 to get a reply, for a total of 2.54 seconds.
- Lunar flashes occur every few hours, when meteorites strike the surface of the Moon.
- The Moon is about 4.5 billion years old, according to NASA.
- The Moon’s gravity is 1/6 that of the Earth’s, so if you divide your weight by six, you can find out approximately how much you’d weigh on the Moon.
By Kyla Cathey, Earth.com Contributing Writer