The Moon Is SO FAR Away

Earth's mass is much greater than I ever realized!

July 19, 2019

by Gregr


My buddy Sean text me the other day about the Apollo 11 mission launch celebrating a milestone day in space history and made a great point:

It's not just kids, dude, I don't think most people understand just how batsh*t crazy it is for humans to go to the moon. Yeah, we can wrap our heads around the danger of the vacuum of space and the insane unknowns of rocketing away from our safe squishy Earth, but the moon is insanely far away. 

The numbers:

  • Earth diameter - 12,740 km or 7,900 miles
  • Moon diameter - 3,474 km or 2,150 mi
  • Ratio: 3.7:1
  • Basketball diameter - 24 cm or 9.4 inches
  • Tennis ball diameter - 6.7cm or 2.6 inches
  • Ratio: 3.6:1 - pretty close!
  • Distance - Earth to Moon: 380,000 km or 235,000 miles or about 29 earth's or 110 moon's apart

If you apply all the numbers, you'll find that the distance between tennis ball Moon and basketball Earth is 7.3 meters or 24 feet!

A few things: 

  • The moon doesn't travel in a circle around the earth. It makes an elliptical orbit; sometimes it's closer, sometimes it's further away.
  • The astronauts on Apollo 11 traveled at as much as 25,000 miles per hour for four days to cover the ~230,000 miles. 
  • Four days in a something the size of a tour van usually would only get you from Seattle to somewhere like Orlando - 3,000 miles from home.
  • The moon is about 29 earth's away from the Earth
  • Astronauts left dirty space diapers on the surface of the moon.

Do Stuff: Hit up that Apollo 11 exhibit at Museum of Flight to see Columbia (below)

by Gregr

I can't believe that thing orbited the moon and made it back to Earth safely!