New Worlds: The man in the moon

15.04.2012                      23.Nissan. 5772                     Isru Chag; Tag 8 des Omer

Forschung:

New Worlds: The man in the moon

Why isn’t the ‘Man in the Moon’ facing the other way?

Although few have actually been there, the face of the “Man in the Moon” – who faithfully accompanies us through life – is very familiar. The synchronous rotation of the Moon taking the same amount of time to spin around its own axis as it does to revolve around Earth is what causes the Moon to “lock eyes” with Earth, resulting in one of its hemispheres constantly facing us. But why is this particular half of the Moon locked with Earth, or was it pure coincidence that it didn’t “turn its back” on us? Through careful analysis and simulations, Prof. Oded Aharonson of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Center for Planetary Science, together with Prof. Peter Goldreich of the California Institute of Technology and Prof. Re’em Sari of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have shown that it is not coincidence but the Moon’s geophysical properties that determine its orientation. Their findings have recently been published in the journal Icarus….