The Moon 'ghosting' the Earth: Is the moon really creeping away from the Earth at an alarming rate?


We often fail to realise just how important the moon is for the Earth. Yes, we may shower it with platitudes after platitudes, one epithet after the other in poetry. However, we often forget, just how vital it has been to sustain life on planet Earth. 

One key reason why the moon is so crucial to life on Earth is how it helps keep the Earth stay true to its axis, and also in its position in the solar system, relative to the Sun. 

Now though, a new study has revealed that the Moon is gradually moving away from the earth, at an accelerated rate. The moon, is quite literally, ghosting the Earth

Faster than the universe expanding
People who have even a rudimentary understanding of space and astronomy will know that the universe is expanding at a rapid rate, and so is our solar system. In such a scenario it is natural that over time, distances between two bodies in a solar system might change and most likely grow over time.

Also read: Moon and beyond: The major space explorations to look out for in 2023

However, due to a phenomenon known as the Milankovitch cycle, the moon seems to be moving away from the Earth at a faster pace. 

What are Milankovitch cycles?
To put it in a very rudimentary and simplistic manner, Milankovitch cycles simply refer to the minute differences in the axis and orbital shapes of the Earth as it goes across the Sun, which effects on how much sunlight reaches the planet.

Milankovitch cycles explain the long-term impacts of variations in the Earth’s movements on its climate. Milutin Milankovi, a Serbian geophysicist and astrophysicist, was the inspiration for the word. He hypothesised in the 1920s that variations in eccentricity, axial tilt, and precession combined to produce cyclical variations in the intra-annual and latitudinal distributions of solar radiation at the Earth’s surface, and that this orbital forces, along with that of the moon, strongly influenced the Earth’s climatic patterns.

Also read: Humans will be living & working on the Moon by the end of this decade thanks to Artemis 1, says NASA

Milankovitch cycles are the accumulated effects of the Earth’s movement changes on its climate over thousands of years.

The duration and pace of these cycles determine how far the Moon is from Earth. Scientists estimate that the moon was 60,000 km closer to Earth roughly about 2.46 billion years ago.

Major implications on the Earth
Well, to begin with, days will become considerably longer on the Earth. This is one of the major and most noticeable effects of the Moon moving away from the Earth. 

Secondly, with a significant change in Moon’s gravitational pull on the earth, life on Earth as we know it may cease to exist and redevelop in a completely different way.

Also, while modern-day climate change is a man-made phenomenon, because of Milankovitch cycles, the effects of climate change, mainly global warming, are now more pronounced than ever before. 

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The Moon 'ghosting' the Earth: Is the moon really creeping away from the Earth at an alarming rate?
The Moon 'ghosting' the Earth: Is the moon really creeping away from the Earth at an alarming rate?
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