Sometimes, it may seem that the largest celestial object in the sky approaches us, but the truth is that the moon slowly gets away from our planet. But what would happen if the moon was closer to the Earth?
You might imagine romantic pictures of a huge moon in the sky, such as those we see in cartoons and sci-fi movies. But if it indeed happened in reality, the consequences would be much more devastating.
Once, the Moon was very close to the Earth, but it does not approach more because the gravitational interaction and the angular momentum between the two planets have resulted in the transfer of energy from the Earth to the Moon. So our natural satellite’s orbit constantly gets larger at a speed of about an inch (38 mm) per year.
This results in a constant increase in the distance between the two planets and in a slowdown of the Earth’s rotation. Consequently, the duration of the day increases by 15 millionths of a second each year.
Although it is impossible for the Moon to approach the Earth, let’s take a few moments to think about what would happen if the moon was closer to the Earth than it is now. First of all, if it happened, our satellite would occupy more space in the sky, which would result in more frequent and longer-lasting solar eclipses.
Moreover, if the Moon was even closer and had even stronger gravitational pull, it would cause far more destructive and powerful tidal phenomena. The difference between low tide and high tide would be higher, and large tidal waves, depending on the distance of the Moon, would probably cause devastating floods.
Finally, if the Moon was closer to the Earth, the gravitational pull would not only affect the waters of our planet, but it could also cause severe earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. As you can see, we can consider ourselves quite lucky that the moon is at the current distance from our planet and not closer.
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