Is the Moon round?

moon-orange_198x198When looking up to the full moon, you see a sphere and there is no doubt: the Moon has to be round. And we assume quite simply that a sphere is orbiting our Earth. This is correct indeed, if taking a lax approach in the definition of a sphere. The Moon is spherical, but differs considerably from the perfect shape. On the one hand it is flattened at the North Pole and South Pole, and on the other hand, its reverse side, which is turned away from the Earth, is convexed outwardly.

The reason for this deviation of the spherical shape, has now been examined by scientists of the University of California. The Moon came into existence approximately 4.5 billion years ago due to the collision of the Earth with the planet Theia. At this point in time, the lunar rocks were still hot and easy to mold. Simultaneously, the Moon moved away from the Earth. Because of the different gravitational fields of the Sun and the Earth, the Moon got out of shape and solidified during the movement to the form known to us today, which rather reminds more of a fruit, than of a mathematically precise sphere.

To be honest, nothing much of these news will change the image of the round full moon in our heads. The Moon still feels round and looks round as well when glancing into the sky. Still, it is interesting finding out that we may have to verify these images from time to time and if and when necessary make correction.

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