Is the Moon a planet?

importance of the moon

The Earth is orbited by a single natural satellite known as the Moon. A celestial body that revolves around a planet is called a natural satellite. While some planets, such as Jupiter and Saturn, have more than seventy natural satellites, others such as Venus and Mercury have none. Among the natural satellites of the Solar System, the Moon occupies fifth place in size. Many people wonder why the Moon is not considered a planet.

In this article we are going to tell you why the Moon is not considered a planet and their characteristics.

Importance of knowledge of the Moon

the moon is a planet

The Space Age began in the 1950s, marking the beginning of humanity's quest to explore celestial bodies beyond Earth. The Moon, being the closest to our planet, became the main objective. Since then, there have been more than one hundred robotic expeditions and more than ten manned missions with the aim of reaching and studying the Moon.

The historic event of successfully landing a rocket on the moon and returning safely to Earth occurred in 1969 with the Apollo 11 mission. This monumental achievement was led by Neil Armstrong, who became the first astronaut to set foot on the lunar surface. It usually takes about three days for a rocket to travel from Earth to the Moon.

Features of our satellite

natural satellite

The Moon has distinctive characteristics that distinguish it from other celestial bodies in our solar system. Several notable features distinguish the Moon, including the following:

  • It is the only natural satellite of the Earth and is located about 385.000 kilometers from our planet.
  • Among the wide range of over one hundred and ninety moons surrounding various planets in our Solar System, this particular moon occupies the esteemed position of being the fifth largest.
  • Compared to the size of the Earth, it is barely a quarter of its magnitude.
  • The density of this object is 40% lower compared to that of the Earth.
  • The moon's surface is rugged and marked by numerous craters caused by the collisions of large objects that successfully penetrated its delicate atmosphere. Besides, The moon plays a crucial role in maintaining Earth's stability and climate.
  • Seismic activity in this particular region is minimal and there is a significant lack of heat emanating from its core. Unlike the Earth, it does not have a magnetic field; However, certain rocks on their surface exhibit a permanent magnetic quality.
  • Because its density is approximately 60% of that on Earth, objects on the Moon weigh less compared to their weight on our planet.

The structure and composition of the Moon

moon size

The Moon is made up of several layers, including:

  • The crust can be compared to the lunar landscape, full of numerous craters.
  • The mantle, which is the layer following the crust, is the dominant layer. It is a firm shell that transitions to a partially solid state as it approaches the moon's core. Within the mantle are minerals such as magnesium, silicon, iron and calcium, as well as oxygen and basaltic rocks.
  • The lunar core is composed of a solid iron center surrounded by a layer of liquid iron, making it the innermost section of the celestial body.

Several theories have been proposed to explain the origin of the Moon. The formation of the Moon occurred more than four million years ago, which generated numerous theories about its origin and the mechanism behind its creation. The prevailing hypothesis suggests that a collision occurred between Earth and a nascent planet, causing debris from the impact to remain in Earth's orbit. Over time, these debris accumulated and coalesced to form the Moon as it exists today.

The Moon's path around the Earth, known as the lunar orbit, follows a counterclockwise path in the shape of an ellipse.


The movements of the Moon can be described as follows:

  • The Moon performs a rotating movement while rotating on its own axis.
  • The motion known as translation involves the Moon orbiting the Earth.

It takes approximately 28 days for the Moon to complete one full revolution, which encompasses both its rotation on its axis and its orbit around the Earth. The speed of the Moon's rotational movement coincides with that of the Earth's translational movement.

The gravitational forces of celestial bodies interact in such a way that synchronized movement occurs. As a result of this synchronicity, the Earth always sees the same side of the Moon, while the opposite side, which remains invisible, is known as "the far side of the Moon."

Importance for planet Earth

The Moon is important due to its ability to impact a multitude of phenomena on Earth, including:

  • The ebb and flow of the ocean tides are influenced by the path the Moon follows as it orbits the Earth. This path follows an elliptical shape, causing the Moon to approach our planet at certain times. As the principles of physics dictate, objects that are very close exert a stronger gravitational attraction on each other. Consequently, as the Moon approaches the Earth, the gravitational force it exerts causes a rise in the tide level, as water is drawn into the Moon's presence.
  • Earth's climate is influenced by the gravitational force between the Earth and the Moon, which causes the tides to change and ultimately causes changes in weather patterns. This natural phenomenon plays a crucial role in maintaining the general balance of the planet.

Is the Moon a planet?

To meet the criteria established by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) for planetary classification, a celestial body must orbit the Sun directly. The size of the Moon prevents it from reaching a spherical shape due to its own gravitational force., unlike planets, which are celestial bodies of sufficient size to achieve this.

The lack of a defined orbit is another significant aspect of the Moon. According to the definition provided by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the planets must have cleared their orbit of smaller entities. However, the Moon does not meet this criterion since it coexists with several asteroids and celestial bodies within its orbit.

I hope that with this information you can learn a little more about our satellite and know why the Moon is not a planet.

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