What does the moon mean

What does the moon mean to us?

(hp) Our solar system was formed from a huge cloud of gas and dust about 4.6 billion years ago. The young earth initially orbited the sun for a few million years, lonely without a moon. Scientists assume that another, smaller planet collided with the earth about 4.5 billion years ago.



In doing so, the two planets did not completely merge with each other. During this gigantic collision, some of the pieces were thrown back into space into an orbit around the earth and have since formed our moon.

It is probably thanks to this accidental collision that life on earth exists in the form as we know it - and thus also us humans.

If the moon didn't exist, our earth would probably “stagger” chaotically through space: Because the earth not only revolves around the sun, it also rotates around its own axis. This axis, in turn, is inclined by about 23.5 degrees to the plane of the earth's orbit around the sun. So you could say that the earth is a bit “crooked” in space.

Without the moon, however, the earth's axis of rotation would straighten up into a vertical position, just like a top. If it were to stay with this upright axis - as with a rapidly rotating top - there would of course be no problem.

Unfortunately, however, the masses of the sun, the large planets such as Jupiter and Saturn and even the masses of the small planets such as Veus or Mars pull on the axis of the earth, so that it would never get out of the tumble.

In the worst case scenario, scientists have calculated that it could take around two million years for the axis to tilt from an upright position up to 85 degrees.
The icy Antarctica and also the North Pole would then suddenly be on the equator and the hot countries on the equator would suddenly find each other in place of the poles and disappear under thick ice sheets. After another two million years, the axis would have straightened up again and the game would start all over again.

This tumbling would continue into eternity - and you can well imagine that life on earth would have a very difficult time developing in such a chaotic climate. In this case, no sea, no forest, no lake, no desert, no river, no steppe would exist for more than a few hundred thousand years at the most. And for comparison: the development of humans from their earliest ancestors to the present day took almost 5 million years.

Fortunately, our moon prevents such chaos: It is its gravitational pull that stabilizes the angle of the earth's axis. In fact, the moon does not orbit the earth, but the earth and moon both orbit a common center of gravity. This lies within the globe about 4,700 kilometers away from the center of the earth, about 1,700 kilometers below its surface. This means that the earth and moon form a very stable system that can withstand the effects of the sun and other planets.

Instead of 0 to 85 degrees, the angle of the axis therefore only fluctuates by 3 degrees every 40,000 years between the angles 21.5 to 24.5 degrees. But even these comparatively tiny fluctuations can trigger strong climate changes such as ice ages.