How big is the moon compared to Earth and what if it crashed?

the Moon

The bane of werewolves, a source of inspiration for many poets and a symbol of eternal love for lovers, the moon has held captive the imagination and fascination of humans and animals alike. The silvery ball that is ever-changing is a guide for us, both in our journey on earth and for our metaphysical journey. But since it is so far from us, a question comes to our mind; How big is the Moon compared to Earth? And what would happen if it came crashing into the Earth? We’ll find the answers to these questions and many in this article. 

First I’d like to point out the obvious for many people without going into too many details. Is the moon bigger than the Earth? Yes, it is way bigger than the moon. How big? The comparison is done later in the article. 

Is the moon a star? No, the moon is not a star, the sun is a star. The moon is called a natural satellite. This means that this is a piece of rock that revolves around a planet. Since the moon does not have a light of its own, it is not a star. The moon reflects the light of the sun at night and hence you see it. So basically, you’re seeing the sun through the moon at night.

How big is the moon compared to Earth?

The moon is big. It is the fifth-largest moon in our solar system. The moon is also bigger than the dwarf planet Pluto. But when you compare the moon with the Earth, the moon becomes smaller. Since the moon is not a planet, it has to be smaller than Earth. Here are some comparisons. 

The moon is 27% the size of Earth. This means that the ratio of Earth to the moon is nearly 1:4. So theoretically., you can fit nearly 50 moons inside Earth if it were hollow. To put this number to a more understandable perspective, if the Earth was a nickel, the moon would be the size of a coffee bean. Or if the Earth was the size of 6 feet human, the moon would as long as a small penny board.

Comparing the size of earth with moon
Image: The Spacefarer

Moon has a mean radius is 1,079.6 miles (1,737.5 kilometers). The diameter then comes out to be 2,159.2 miles (3,475 km). But these numbers can hardly be grasped by our minds. So let’s make them understandable.

Comparing the size of the moon in an easy way 

Let’s take the equatorial circumference of the moon to see how big is the moon compared to Earth. The number comes to be 6,783 miles. So what if you wanted to travel around the moon on its circumference. Let’s start with a car. 

A car traveling at a speed of 60 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) would take a non-stop journey of 35 hours to circle. This is almost 2 days of continuous travel. But how much time would it take to do the same on Earth? At the same speed, it would take you 132 hours or almost 6 days of continuous traveling. 

The surface area of the Moon, which is the total area that you can walk on, is slightly less than the combined area of North and South America. Or if you live in Asia, the moon is just about 3 million square miles less than the continent of Asia.

how big is the moon compared to earth
Reaching for the moon

The moon has only 7% of the surface area of the Earth. This means that the surface area of Earth (510 million square kilometers) is more than 13 times larger than moon’s (37.9 million square kilometers)

The volume is another important scale of comparison between these two. The moon has a volume of 21.9 billion cubic km. The Earth has a volume of 1 trillion cubic kilometers. The Earth is more than 46 times more in volume than the moon and the moon is 2% compared to the volume of Earth.

The mass is another indicator of how big the moon is compared to earth. The mass of the Moon is 7.347 x 1022 kg. But the mass of the Earth is 5.97x 1024 kg. The moon has just 1.2% of the mass of the Earth. So the Earth is about 812 times more massive than the Moon.

How far is the moon from Earth 

According to NASA, the average distance of the moon from Earth is about 238,855 miles away from the Earth. You can fit 30 piles of earth between the Earth and the moon. Or you can also place all the 8 planets from our solar system and Pluto between Earth and moon and there’ll be still some space left. 

So suppose there was a space highway and you wanted to drive to the moon, how long would it take? If you are taking your car and driving at 60 miles per hour constantly, it will take you about 166 days of continuous driving to reach the moon. Light takes 1.3 seconds to reach the moon. So if you want to reach faster, you must travel light. 

Moon and Earth's distance compared
Image: The Spacefarer

What if you wanted to just keep walking on this space highway? Surely you can reach the moon if you have the stamina. But here are the number. It will take you almost 9 years to reach the moon if you choose to walk. 

What if you shoot for the moon?

We’ve heard the phrase “shoot for the moon.” This clearly doesn’t mean to actually shoot a bullet towards the moon. But since we are all curious here, we thought of finding how long would it take a bullet to reach the moon if it was shot from the earth. 

It would take a bullet traveling at the speed of 1,700 miles per hour almost 6 days to reach the moon. So if you were a hitman and were shooting someone on the moon, you have to wait for 6 days to know the results. 

The distance of the moon from the sun.

While the earth is clearly bigger than the moon, when it comes to the sun, the numbers are not just bigger, but astonishingly bigger. I won’t compare every detail of the sun and moon because we all know that the sun would blow the moon out of the water. Instead, I’ll just put some interesting comparisons. 

If you wanted to walk from the moon to the sun, it would take you 34,246 years to reach the sun. You’d clearly die from the heat of the sun but I don’t think you can walk for over thirty thousand years! 

If you shoot a bullet at the moon, then the bullet would reach the sun after over 6 years. See how the numbers changed? It took the bullet 6 days to reach the moon, but 6 years to reach the sun. Imagine the difference in distance.

Also, if the sun was hollow, it would hold over 64 million moons inside it. But how come the sun and the moon look the same size? This is because of cancelations. The diameter of the Sun is 400 times the diameter of the moon, but at the same time, the sun is 400 times farther from Earth than the moon is. This cancels the differences and makes these two look similar in size.

Articles related to space:

Is Moon a star?

Many people have this misconception about the moon of thinking that it is a star. The moon is neither a star, nor a planet. Here’s why it isn’t the two. 

How the moon shines
Image: The Spacefarer.

The moon has no light of its own. A star is a heavenly body that can fuse hydrogen in its core and produce heat and light as a byproduct. This is the characteristic of a star. The reason why people assume that the moon is a star is that it appears to emit light. But in reality, this is not the case. 

The moon actually reflects the light of the sun at night. I have added an illustration to make you understand the whole process. But the moon does not have its own light. So the sunburns and the moon shines. 

Where did the moon come from?

A bigger question that has been inside the mind of early astronomers was where the did the moon come from? It was seen ever since humans evolved on this planet. The answer was found and it was astonishing. The moon is Earth’s child. It originated from the Earth. 

I am not going to go into detail about the exact origin of the moon as that is not the main topic of this article. The moon was created when a small planet, the size of mars, struck the Earth and a massive chunk of it got separated. This chunk then soon coalesced and turned into the moon. I’ll link an in-depth article about the formation of the moon. Click here to read more about moon formation. 

What if the Moon fell on Earth?

This one is a tricky question. There are videos of many people trying to simulate this event. There is a game called Universe Sandbox which lets you simulate multiple things of the universe. Many people have crashed the moon on earth and the results were…destructive. We need to look at some numbers before the collision. 

Let’s put the speed of the moon coming towards Earth at 35 kilometers per second. This would make the impact speed at 18,000 kilometers per hour. This is considered slow in astronomical quantities. So what happens when it collides?
Within 10 minutes, the moon is completely destroyed due to the collision. The earth’s core has shifted and the heat is felt of the other face of the Earth. The face on which the collision occurred has completely obliterated. 

In about 30 minutes, 40% of earth’s mass is gone along with waves of destruction traveling across the globe. Gravity decreased by 40% and the surface temperature is at 3,700 degrees Celsius. That is just 1,300 degrees less than the temperature of the surface of the sun. 

The North Pole has shifted to someplace near Egypt and we are constantly losing mass. All the water on Earth has already vaporized. In short, summary, if the Moon hits the Earth, even gently, we’ll all be dead within minutes. That was all.

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