James Hope Nelson, age 10, of Richmond, Va., for his question:
How hot is the moon?
The sun beats down on the face of the moon without mercy, The heat is almost twice that of the hottest day on earth. This scorching goes on without letup for fifteen earth days and nights, For the length of each lunar day is a little longer than two earth weeks. The night which follows is equally long and bitterly cold. During the lunar day, in most regions, the surface rocks are hot enough to boil water into steam. During the chilly night the temperature drops to about minus 240 degrees Fahrenheit,
The moon, like the earth, revolves on its axis and also, like the earth, its axis is tilted at an angle to its orbit. This gives the moon polar regions. In a modest way the moon has yearly seasons. There are times when the north polar region enjoys the midnight sun. At this time the south polar region is suffering a long polar night, !'.s on earth, the polar climates alternate with the seasons.
The moon, of course, circles the earth as the earth circles the sun. At times it is nearer and at times further away from the sun than is the earth, But the difference is never very great, Why, then, does the moon have such extremes of heat and cold? The answer is that the earth has an atmosphere and the moon does not. Of the total sunlight which strikes the earths atmosphere more than half is reflected back into space. Much of the heat which reaches the earth is held there, also by the atmosphere,
Thus the earth receives less of the suns heat and much of what it does receive it can hold on to after the sun has gone to bed, The moon has no useful blanket of air to modify the blazing heat of the sun. It has no atmosphere to hold in the day's heat after the sun sets.
It so happens that the moons day and night period is equal to the time it takes to orbit the earth, Its revolution equals its rotation and so the same side of the moon is always facing towards the earth. It take one lunar month for a day and night to pass over this face of the moon. We see only the part which is lit with the glory of the sun. The rest is in the darkness of night. This explains the changing phases of the moon.
Before the man‑made satellites were launched into orbit a trip to the moon was considered an impossible dream. Now we know that this great event is merely a matter of time. When the scientists have figured a little more, learned a little more and practiced a little more, a spacecraft orbit or will land on the moon. ‑after more studies and more practice, man will land on the moon. For the first time in all of history he will stand on a heavenly body other than his own planet,
The first landing may be on the seething daylight side of the moon or on the frigid night side. There is no moderate region between day and night. .A few minutes after sunset the temperature drops from the boiling point of water to 100 degrees or more below zero.
For more information about the moon go to: http://www.MoonPhases.info/#Moon_Information