The Moon is the fifth largest satellite in the Solar System and the second-densest satellite after Io, one of Jupiter’s moons. Due to its closeness to us, the Moon influences the ocean tides on Earth, and it also has some interesting effects upon us.
So how far is the Moon? Like all celestial bodies, the Moon is in constant motion, and its always someplace else. On average, however, the Moon is located at around 384,400 kilometers / 238,855 miles away from Earth, or 1.29 light-seconds.
Apsis – Other Distances
In meters, that would be 384,400,000 meters away from us, and in inches, the Moon is 15.13 billion inches away from Earth, but that’s just the average distance!
The Moon can get as far as 406,700 km / 252,711 mi away from Earth – apogee – and as close as 356,400 km / 221,456 mi away – perigee – however, consider this. The Moon, due to gravitational interactions with our Earth, is drifting away from us at around 4 cm / 1.5 inches every year. Because of this, the estimated distance is always changing.
How Long Will It Take to Get to the Moon?
On average, it would take you around three days to get to the Moon, since the Moon is located at about 384,400 kilometers / 238,855 miles away from Earth. You can get there even faster. Take the Apollo 11 mission, for example.
The first manned spacecraft to be sent to the Moon arrived in just 51 hours and 49 minutes, reaching the lunar orbit. Neil Armstrong’s team remains the fastest crew to get to the Moon on a spacecraft even now.
The slowest mission, which involved a trip to the Moon, was ESA’s SMART-1. The lunar probe reached the Moon in 1 year, one month, and two weeks. This slow trip was intentional, as the probe used an ion engine as a propellant, using only 82 kg of xenon for the entire mission.
It proved to be extremely successful since it remains the most fuel-efficient mission in history. The Chinese sent their Chang’ e-1 orbiter towards the Moon, and it made the trip in just five days. Another probe, the Chang’ e-2, was launched later, and it made the trip to the Moon even faster, arriving there in just four days and 16 hours.
A third Chinese orbiter, Chang’ e-3, reached the Moon in 4 days, 12 hours, and 23 minutes. The faster trip to the Moon remains the Soviet Luna 1 probe, which was also the first unmanned probe to be sent to the Moon.
The Luna 1 probe traveled at around 10,500 km/hr, and it reached the Moon in just 36 hours. The probe completed a flyby of the Moon, and it was launched in 1959.
How Far is Moon from Earth Today?
The Moon is 384,400 kilometers / 238,855 miles away from Earth. If you could fill that distance with celestial objects, you would need 30 Earth-sized planets to do so.
The Moon might be 238,855 miles away today, but it is in constant motion, and its orbit regularly takes it farther away from Earth, or closer. The Moon is also drifting 1.5 inches / 4 centimeters away from us each year, due to the gravitational interactions with Earth.
How Far is the Moon from the Sun?
Since the Moon and Earth travel together throughout space, they are on average at around 150 million km / 93 million miles away from the Sun. In astronomic terms, the Moon is 1 AU (astronomical unit) away from the Sun.
In light-years, the Moon is 8.20 light minutes away, or 500 light-seconds away from the Sun. At the farthest point in its orbit, the Moon is around 152 million km / 94.5 million mi, a little over 1 AU away from the Sun. At its closest point to the Sun, the Moon is 147.5 million km / 91.3 million mi away from the Sun, a little less than 1 AU.
Can Earth Survive Without the Moon?
The Moon has many interesting effects on Earth, and that includes us as living beings. If the Moon were to disappear, it would take us 1.29 seconds to realize this, but this is nothing to what would follow.
If the Moon were gone, the days on Earth would last only six to twelve hours. This means that more than a thousand days would pass until one year would pass; hence the Earth would move quicker around the Sun.
Our Moon affects the rotational speed of our planet due to their gravitational interactions. If the Moon disappeared, Earth’s rotation would almost instantly increase in speed.
Our Earth would survive without the Moon, but life would be very different. A day would only last six hours, and who knows how life would adapt to this, having less light. This is true when it comes to the night as well.
Without the Moon, the nights on Earth would be even darker, and the ocean tides would be about one third as high as they are now. If the Moon were gone, the weather would be wild on Earth because the Moon influences Earth’s axial tilt, varying over time.
This would cause no seasons or extreme seasons to occur on our planet. Many scientists claim that half the life on Earth may not have evolved as it did without the Moon.
Thus, if the Moon would disappear, probably half or even more of the life on Earth would probably be extinct. The change would be too drastic and too fast for many lifeforms to adapt to it.
Evolution takes millions of years to observe, and we have evolved alongside our Moon since the beginning. Nothing good might come to us if the Moon were to disappear.
Is Time Slower on the Moon?
Time passes faster on the Moon than on Earth, so no, time isn’t slower on the Moon. This is because of gravity. The gravity on Earth is much stronger than the gravity on the Moon, and thus, time passes more slowly on Earth than it does on the Moon. The difference is around 0.021 seconds per year, though, so you wouldn’t notice this.
Did you know?
- The atmosphere on the Moon is quite thin, and if you were to walk on it, your footprints would remain there for centuries. Since the Moon doesn’t have an atmosphere, it can’t retain heat, and the temperatures vary wildly. The illuminated part of the Moon may reach 273oF / 134oC. The dark side of the Moon, on the other hand, gets as cold as -243oF / -153oC.
- Just after 95 million years after the Solar System was born, a Mars-sized object collided with Earth. This resulted in a massive chunk of Earth being blown into space, which later became our Moon.
- Earth has earthquakes, and the Moon has moonquakes. These are caused due to the gravitational interaction between our Earth and the Moon. While earthquakes last a couple of seconds, moonquakes can last for hours; however, they are much weaker than earthquakes.
- There is water on the Moon but in the form of ice trapped within dust and minerals on and under the Moon’s surface. Astronomers believe that the ice on the Moon, the ice on the surface, was delivered by impact comets.
- The Moon is tidally locked to Earth, and because of this, we get to see only one side of its surface. The darker side is much more covered in craters, and it looks quite macabre.
- The first uncrewed spacecraft to land on the Moon was the Luna 1 Spacecraft, conducted by the soviets in 1959. The first crewed spacecraft to land on the Moon was Apollo 11, led by the USA, in 1969.
- During a Full Moon, a person’s overall weight is somewhat affected due to stronger gravitational interactions. This is when the most potent tidal activities also occur.
- Scientists have observed the so-called rusting of the Moon. This event exists solely because the Moon passes through Earth’s magnetic field, which temporarily protects it from solar radiation, and individual particles from Earth’s atmosphere reach the Moon unhindered. These particles contribute to what is referred to as the rusting of the Moon.