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What is the Distance from the Moon to Planet Earth?

A Few Moon Facts - Distance From Earth and Orbit Times

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moon source nasa 240,000 miles (2.570x10-3 AU) away from our planet, is our one and only satellite, the Moon.

The Moon has been orbiting the Earth since around 4.5 billion years and takes just over 27 days to orbit us. Some scientists suggest that our Moon was created due to a Mars-sized object colliding with our planet scattering a huge cloud of matter into space, and all of this debris coalescing to form the beautiful spherical object we like to call the Moon.

Perigee and Apogee

The distance that the Moon is from the Earth varies throughout the year.

At its closest (during perigee) it is 225,383 miles away. At its furthest (Apogee) it is 252,088 miles.

Although the Moon itself is not a light source, it has always been the second brightest object in the sky, after the Sun. The reason for this is because it reflects the light of the sun, acting like a massive mirror. Every day, you will notice that the Moon appears to be changing shape, but, the moon isn’t actually changing shape, it is just the visual result of different amounts of sun light being reflected off the Moon as it orbits the Earth! These different shapes are called phases and the Moon has a 29.5 day cycle from one full moon, to the next.

How long would it take to get from the Earth to the Moon?

  • Travelling at the speed of light, we could reach the moon within approximately 1.82s.
  • Travelling by car, it would take around 131 days
  • Travelling by a rocket (as did those on the Apollo missions) it would take 13.5 hours.

Would you spare 27 hours of your life to travel to the Moon and back?

So, the moon is 240,000 miles away. How does it impact us? Is it moving away from us? Do we really need it?

Sadly, our closest neighbour won’t be so close in a few billion years. At this moment in time, the Moon is actually moving away from us at a rate of about 4cm per year! This rate is approximately equal to how fast your nails grow. This will have a huge impact on our length of day, and our planetary wobble. For every cm the Moon moves away from us, our day actually lengthens, but only by a few microseconds or so. For example, when the Moon was first formed, and was at its closest to the Earth, the length of day was only 5 hours. Due to the Moon moving away from us, at a slow but steady rate, the day has increased, and now it is 24 hours!

The distance the Moon is from our Earth has a huge impact on our lives...  

The moon has a huge influence on our everyday lives and yes, we really do need it, to allow the human race to thrive.

One of the physical characteristics of Earth that the Moon has biggest influence on is our tides. There is no word to describe how much we rely on the gravitational forces between the moon and the earth. Our planet is not perfectly spherical and research suggests that Earth actually bulges towards the middle, stretching out along the line towards the Moon.

From the perspective of satellites etc, the Earth consists of two main bulges, one directly in line with the moon, and the other directly opposite.

This has a massive effect on the oceans it makes it move. The Moon is kept in orbit by the gravitational force that the Earth exerts on it, but as Newton said, ‘With every action there is an equal but opposite reaction’ therefore the Moon also exerts an equal gravitational force on our planet and this causes the movement of the Earth's oceans to form a tidal bulge.

As you may know, we usually have two high tides per day, and this is because the Moon moves in its orbit much slower than the Earth – resulting in one huge bulge every day. The Earth needs the Moon to stabilize its axis. It is often said that just like a ‘plate spinning on a stick’, The Earth needs the Moon in order to keep moving fast to keep stable. If the Earth does slow down, it will have devastating consequences and will destroy our weather seasons and this will halt further evolution and might even result in the loss of the majority of animals, as they will not be able to adapt to these circumstances. Apparently, humans are advanced enough to come up with the technology to adapt to the situations! So we don’t need to worry that much, just yet.

One final Moon fact…

Lunar orbits Earth at a speed of 2,988 miles per hour, and the distance the Moon travels at this speed is 1,432,000 miles! Now that’s fast!

About the Author

Awel-Medi Evans, Young Astronomer whose dream is to unravel the connections between the stars, the planets and our home, Earth! Creator of @UKYoungAstro Twitter - @UKYoungAstro & @AwelEvans

Moon Video Update

We found this great little video that talks about the moon in relation to Earth using a basketball and tennis ball! Do check it out!

 
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