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THE SILVERY MOON The Moon is the Earths companion in space lying roughly 380000 kilometers 240000 miles away a distance that would take two or three days to travel in a spacecraft It is a ball of rock about one-quarter of the size of our planet with no air water and life It is the only other body in space on which human beings have ever set foot American astronauts walked on the moon during the Apollo space missions from 1969 to 1972 The Moon moves around the Earth so it rises and sets at different times each night As it orbits the Earth the Moon seems to change in shape-sometimes it is a crescent other times it is a half-circle and other times it is a full circle There changes are known as the Moons phases A complete cycle of phases lasts 29 days and is the origin of our month Even a quick glance at the Moon shows that it has dark markings which form a pattern like a face popularly called the man in the Moon Every time we look at the Moon we see the same markings which mean that the Moon keeps the same side turned towards us There is a very good reason for this The Earths pull of gravity has locked the Moon so that it turns on its own axis in the same time as it orbits the Earth Where did the Moon come from Astronomers are still not sure how the Moon was born One old theory said it was a piece of the Earth that broke off long ago when our planet was hot and spinning quickly Another idea was that it was once a separate body that was captured by the Earths gravity when it passed too close In a third theory the Moon grew from material left over from the birth of our planet But there are problems with all
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