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Why Do We Always See the Same Side of the Moon?


Q: Why does the moon repeatedly original the similar face to us? I fetch it inconceivable to imagine that this could moreover occur accidentally. — Michael Connelly, Toronto

A: Nope, no longer accidentally — it’s pure physics.

For starters, the moon is now not any longer stuck in gain 22 situation with one aspect facing us. Our lunar accomplice rotates while it orbits Earth. It’s honest that the duration of time it takes the moon to total a revolution on its axis is the similar it takes to circle our planet — about 27 days. This capacity that, the similar lunar hemisphere repeatedly faces Earth.

How’d this advance to be? In a be conscious: gravity. The moon’s gravity a microscopic bit warps our planet’s shape and presents us tides. Likewise, Earth tugs at the moon, creating a rocky, high-tide “bulge” facing us. That bulge ended up working fancy a brake, slowing the moon’s drag appropriate down to the fresh rate, so the lunar high tide completely faces us.

When that took place, about 4 billion years ago, the moon changed into “tidally locked,” and it has presented us the similar visage ever since.

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