What would happen if we did not have a Moon?
I'm going to answer this by just giving you some ideas I have, some of them might not be true, but they might be interesting to think about. I hope that's OK.
If we did not have a Moon there would be no lunar tides. (We would still have tides caused by the sun, but these would only be about 1/3 as great as the current tides.) There would also be no total solar eclipses which I think would be a shame. We might get hit more often by asteroids, as the Moon probably takes some that would otherwise hit us, so that might have meant that life couldn't have developed so well (that's a bit speculative). There would be a lot less mythology and folk tales as the Moon has played an important part in alot of cultures (although I guess we probably would have found something else to write stories about). There would have been no "Moon Race" in the 1960s so no Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon, which is pretty important in modern day culture. It might have taken longer for Astronomy to develop as the Moon is a pretty easy target to wonder about and work out things like gravity etc. I guess there is no real way of telling how things might have turned out with no Moon so this is all a bit speculative. If you can think of any other consequences I would be pleased to know about them.
In response to your question about not having a Moon, won't the Earth spin faster if there was no moon?
Lynn: Yes, this is true, thanks for bringing it up! The Earth's rotation is being slowed through tidal interactions with the Moon. If the Moon had never existed the Earth would be spinning much faster. In fact, our day would probably only be about 6 hours long! The fast rotation rate would lead to faster winds and stronger storms. The fast rotation speed would also have implications for plant photosynthesis, and animal hunting and sleeping cycles.
If you're really interested in this subject you might want to look up the book What if the Moon Didn't Exist? at your local library. It has a whole chapter on this subject, as well as chapters on other events that could have altered the evolution of Earth.
Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:
- Podcast? Subscribe? Tell me about the Ask an Astronomer Podcast
- Subscribe to our Podcast | Listen to our current Episode
- Cool! But I can't now. Send me a quick reminder now for later.
- What would happen if the Moon fell out of its orbit around Earth?
- What would happen if Earth had more than one moon?
- Is the Moon moving away from the Earth? When was this discovered?
- Do asteroids ever do anything good in the Solar System?
How to ask a question:
If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist
This page has been accessed 169189 times since May 15, 2002.
Last modified: June 4, 2003 9:17:40 PM
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.
Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)