[[caption-width-right:250:Kinda looks like ''ComicStrip/LittleOrphanAnnie'', doesn't it?]]

->''"But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard!"''
-->--'''UsefulNotes/JohnFKennedy''''s "Address at Rice University on [[UsefulNotes/{{NASA}} the Nation's Space Effort]]"

{{UsefulNotes/Earth}}'s only -- or at least, only significant -- natural satellite. It's official name is "Luna".

It orbits our planet some 400,000 kilometers away, taking 27.3 days to go all the way around once. (Since the {{UsefulNotes/Earth}} will have moved some distance around {{UsefulNotes/the sun}} by the time the moon has orbited once, it takes a little longer -- 29.5 days total, to be precise -- for the lunar light-cycle to get back around to the same phase it started in.) Tidal forces long ago caused the moon to lock in synchronous rotation with the {{UsefulNotes/Earth}}, so that the same side is always facing us.

Compared to other moons in UsefulNotes/TheSolarSystem, {{UsefulNotes/Earth}}'s moon is really huge compared with the planet it orbits, weighing in at a whopping 1/81 of {{UsefulNotes/Earth}}'s mass and 1/6 of {{UsefulNotes/Earth}}'s surface gravity. By comparison, even [[UsefulNotes/TheMoonsOfSaturn the largest moon of Saturn]] is only 1/4000 of {{UsefulNotes/Saturn}}'s mass. The Moon also has roughly 2/9 the mass of {{UsefulNotes/Mercury}} and is about 1.8 times more massive than all five recognized dwarf planets (Eris, Pluto, Makemake, Haumea, and Ceres), Pluto's satellite Charon (which is more massive than Ceres), and the Asteroid Belt (Ceres excluded) ''combined''. Among the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, only Ganymede, Titan, Callisto, and Io are more massive than the Moon. Of them only Io is dense enough to have a higher surface gravity than the Moon.

Currently, our best guess at how such a humongous companion came into existence is that a UsefulNotes/{{Mars}}-sized planetessimal struck the {{UsefulNotes/Earth}} early in its formation period, which knocked loose a huge chunk of material that eventually cooled, congealed, and settled into the moon's current nearly-circular orbit. However, a recent comparison of the Earth-moon titanium isotope ratio has [[http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/26/moon-formation-theory-new-study_n_1380127.html thrown this model into question]].

The moon has been with us since before the dawn of the human race, progressing through its utterly predictable phases night after night. For most of human prehistory, it was the only light source available to us at night, which lent it a good deal of mystique. Lunar deities are almost as prevalent as Solar deities in {{mythology}}. The fact that the moon's 29-and-a-half-day light cycle is very similar in duration to the average [[WomensMysteries woman's menstrual cycle]] has also not escaped the notice of poets, philosophers, and biologists; indeed the moon is often associated with femininity in literature and myth. However, there are more ''male'' lunar deities than female lunar deities. While Greeks and Romans considered the moon a woman, to the Germanic peoples it apparently was a man, which is how we get TheManInTheMoon.

Loss of personal control and going berserk are also associated with the full moon, and not just when dealing with [[OurWerewolvesAreDifferent werewolves]]; the very word "lunatic" refers to the moon.

The moon is also the major cause of tides on the {{UsefulNotes/Earth}}. When the moon is directly above you or directly below you (i.e. on the opposite side of the Earth), tides are highest; when it's 90 degrees off to one side of you, tides are lowest. [[{{UsefulNotes/TheSun}} The Sun]] also causes tides, but these tides are much weaker than the moon's.

Sadly, the moon will not be with us forever. Those same tidal forces that pull on the {{UsefulNotes/Earth}}'s oceans and locked the same face of the moon toward the {{UsefulNotes/Earth}} are also, very slowly, widening the moon's orbit[[note]]Currently, every year the moon is about 2 inches farther away than the year prior[[/note]]. In a short time (on a geological scale, at least), the moon will be too far away to cause total solar eclipses[[note]]Which actually results in a interesting phenomenon: we are currently in a phase of the moon's orbital life that results in the moon ''just'' being able to cover up the sun during an eclipse. For the dinosaurs, though, the moon would've completely blocked out the sun easily[[/note]]. Eventually, it will be enough to leave Earth orbit entirely, and wander through space just like in ''[[{{Space1999}} Space: 1999]]'', though by the time that actually happens, the Sun would have expanded into a red giant and englufed the Earth already.

The moon's surface is covered in craters, caused by comet and asteroid impacts in the ancient (and, occasionally, recent) past. Each of those craters has a name, and most are named after scientists and philosophers. For instance, the great big crater with the huge white rays coming out of it in all directions is Tycho Crater, named after [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tycho_Brahe Tycho Brahe]]. The moon's surface is also partially covered by "Seas" (''maria'' in [[AltumVidetur Latin]]), dark areas where ancient volcanoes spilled lava all over the place. Like the craters, each Sea has a name, but unlike the craters the Sea names are derived from things that sailors might be concerned about -- the Sea of Tranquility, the Sea of Rains, the Sea of Fecundity, etc..

Despite how bright the moon may appear in the night sky, its surface is very very dark. Its albedo is a dismal 7%, which means that 93% of all incident light is absorbed without being reflected back into space. For comparison, {{UsefulNotes/Earth}}'s albedo is around 38%. The difference in color between the light-colored regolith and the dark-colored maria is like the difference between coal dust and ''extra-dark'' coal dust.

Since the moon keeps the same face pointed toward {{UsefulNotes/Earth}} at all times, the far side of the moon can't be seen from the Earth's surface, and it wasn't until the advent of the first space probes that we had any idea what the far side looked like. (It's got a lot less maria and a lot more craters than the near side; the slightly greater density of the dark maria material may be why the maria-rich side ended up facing {{UsefulNotes/Earth}}.) Both the near side and the far side wax and wane through light-and-dark phases, so it's incorrect to call the far side "Music/TheDarkSideOfTheMoon" except during the brief period every month while the moon appears Full in Earth's skies.


!!Examples with the moon as a place


* ''Film/ATripToTheMoon'', the first movie to rely on special effects to tell the story of a trip, featured people getting shot to the moon inside a giant cannon shell -- which gave the Man in the Moon a black eye.
* In ''Film/TwoThousandOneASpaceOdyssey'' (written and premiered in the years prior to the Apollo landings) mankind has an established moonbase and space travel to the moon is a semi-mundane trip.

* The {{Tintin}} graphic novel ''Explorers on the Moon'' features a surprisingly realistic take on what travelling to the moon would be like, despite being written pre-Sputnik.

* Creator/HGWells's ''Literature/TheFirstMenInTheMoon'' has its protagonist travel to the moon through the use of "cavorite", a magical AntiGravity metal.
* ''[[Literature/TheMouseThatRoared The Mouse on the Moon]]'', the 3rd installment in the ''Mouse that Roared'' series, features the mini-country of Grand Fenwick embroiled in TheSpaceRace with the Americans and Soviets. They get to the moon with a rocket powered by wine fermentation.
* Creator/JulesVerne's ''Literature/FromTheEarthToTheMoon'' has a huge bullet-like spacecraft shot off a cannon with three people in it. The book ends there, but the sequel, ''Around the Moon'', deals with the space travel. [[spoiler:However, they never reach the moon, only orbit around it and back (as the title implies)]].

* Series/DoctorWho 1966 story "The Moonbase" (set in 2070), has the Second Doctor visit a Moonbase that controls Earth's weather and stop the Cybermen (in their second appearance) taking over the Moonbase.


* The Walter Koenig vehicle ''Film/{{Moontrap}}'' involves alien intelligences lying in wait on the moon.
* ''Film/{{Apollo 13}}'', being based on the RealLife Apollo moon mission, had the moon as the crew's ultimate (original) destination.
* The film ''Film/{{Moon}}'' takes place on the titular worldlet.
* The opening of ''Film/IndependenceDay'' features the alien mothership flying past the moon, so close that its gravity (or engine-emission vibrations, we can't really tell) disturbs the Apollo 11 landing site.
* In ''Film/SupermanII'', the escaped Krypton criminals land on the moon before they reach the Earth. Woe to the lunar astronauts who happened to be there at the time.
* ''Film/{{Apollo 18}}'' is a fictionalized account of a top secret final moon landing, presented as a [[FoundFootageFilms Found Footage Film.]]

* ''[[{{Space1999}} Space: 1999]]'' takes place on Moonbase Alpha in the far distant future year of 1999. A nuclear explosion on the moon's surface knocks it out of Earth orbit, sending it drifting through the galaxy rapidly enough to pass through a new star system every week.
* The pilot episode of ''[[Series/{{Salvage 1}} Salvage 1]]'' features Andy Griffith managing a mission to the moon in a homemade rocket. (They can get away with this because their NASA reject friend has concocted a rocket fuel hundreds of times more efficient than anything the space program has yet put into production.) His intent is to salvage all the "junk" the Apollo astronauts left lying around on the moon and sell it.
* The 1998 miniseries ''[[Series/FromTheEarthToTheMoon From The Earth To The Moon]]'' is about the race for the moon in the 1960's.

* This is the main battle ground in ''VideoGame/AsurasWrath'' for the final fight between Asura and Augus, as well as the fights against [[spoiler: [[Franchise/StreetFighter Evil Ryu and Akuma[=/=]Oni.]]]]
* ''VideoGame/MassEffect1'' has a mission on the moon to stop a rogue military Virtual Intelligence (VI) which has taken over some defense and training systems.