Diameter of the Moon

by Fraser Cain on October 14, 2008

Earth and Moon, seen from Mars. Image credit: NASA

Earth and Moon, seen from Mars. Image credit: NASA


The diameter of the Moon is 3,474 km. (Diameter of the Moon in miles: 2,159 miles)

Need to put this in context? The diameter of the Earth is 12,742 km, so the Moon’s diameter is about 1/4 that of the Earth (27.3% to be exact). Need another comparison? The diameter of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede – the largest moon in the Solar System – is 5,268 km across. This makes it about 1.5 times larger than the Moon. The Moon is the only natural satellite of the Earth, and the fifth largest moon in the Solar System.

Like most objects in the Solar System, the Moon spins on its axis, completing a day in 27.3 Earth days. Because it’s rotating, the Moon slightly flattens out. I say slightly, because we’re going to need decimals to really tell the difference. The equatorial diameter of the Moon is 3,476.28 km. And the polar diameter of the Moon is 3,471.94 km. In other words, the Moon’s diameter from side to side is 4.34 km more than its distance from pole to pole.

Want some more diameters? Here’s information on the diameter of the Earth, and here’s some info on the diameter of the Sun.

Want more information about the Moon in general? Check out NASA’s Lunar and Planetary Science page, and here’s NASA’s Solar System Exploration Guide.

You can listen to a very interesting podcast about the formation of the Moon from Astronomy Cast, Episode 17: Where Did the Moon Come From?

Reference:
http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/solar_system_level1/earth_satellites.html

About 

Fraser Cain is the publisher of Universe Today. He's also the co-host of Astronomy Cast with Dr. Pamela Gay.

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