If the moon disappears, what happens?

On a daily basis, we don’t realize that the Moon is crucial for us. If it suddenly disappeared from the sky, the consequences would be first embarrassing for humanity, then dramatic.

The moon is so familiar and yet we never tire of observing or exploring it. Earth’s natural satellite is the brightest star in our night sky. If the Moon suddenly disappeared, we would probably miss its brightness. But the problem would be much more worrisome because the Moon is essential to our planet, and therefore to humanity.

At first, we may not miss the Moon that much

If the Moon suddenly disappeared, like in a sci-fi movie, our nights would not only be darker, our world would be radically changed – although at first it would be hard to tell the difference. according to the Department of Physics. This association promotes physics in the United Kingdom. Just after the Moon disappears, the consequences would be minimal.

But we would soon realize the essential role of the Moon in our daily lives. We would not only be deprived of lunar eclipses. Certainly the night sky would be darker without it, it would make telescope observations easier. The Moon is extremely bright, 14,000 times brighter than Venus. It therefore happens that it interferes with observations, for example during swarms of shooting stars. Without the Moon, we would have very dark skies all year round.

But the damage to wildlife would quickly be felt, especially in oceanic environments. Corals and crabs would be disturbed by the Moon’s absence, as they usually manage to perceive its brightness during some of its phases. It is thanks to this light returned by the Moon that they especially begin their reproduction. Without moonlight, we don’t know how they would manage.

What would happen to the tides without the Moon?

Still at sea level, the absence of the Moon would directly affect the phenomenon of the tides. They would become much weaker. The tides would not disappear completely, because the Sun also plays a role in this phenomenon (but less important than that of the Moon). Tides as they exist today are essential for many species. Some fish lay their eggs in the sand and manage to hatch with the tide. This whole ingenious system would no longer make sense without the tide.

The absence of tides would not only prevent people from surfing (rising tides contribute to the formation of breaking waves that push water further towards the beach). It would also be compromising for fisheries, some of the animals caught moving according to the movements of the tide.

The moon is really important to us. // Source: Canva

The immediate effects of the Moon’s disappearance would be detrimental, but not insurmountable. However, the most serious effects are yet to come. They would appear much later. Earth’s habitability would be at stake.

In the long term, the Earth would be upside down without the Moon

The loss of the Moon would eventually destabilize the rotation of our planet. You should know that the Earth’s axis of rotation is tilted 23.4° in relation to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. But in addition, this axis of rotation experiences an oscillation (weak, barely 2.4°). It’s a bit like a spinning top. This oscillation in the Earth’s rotation cycle is extremely slow, with a rhythm spread over 26,000 years. But if the Moon were no longer there, this oscillation would no longer be stabilized. It would assume extreme proportions.

Result: the seasons would no longer exist, day and night would have a fixed length throughout the year. Even worse, the Earth could sometimes tip completely on its side, like Uranus, which is very tilted in its orbit around the Sun. It would be hot at the poles and cold at the equator.

It is therefore very good news to know that the Moon is not about to disappear. True, we know that the satellite is moving away from Earth by a little less than 4 cm every year. However, she will probably never leave us. It is estimated that the Moon would stop moving away from Earth in about 15 billion years at the current rate. Except that the Sun would have to swallow the inner planets of the solar system long before that, in about 6 to 7 billion years.

Good news: The Moon should therefore not escape from Earth. Our planet will be charred anyway before that can happen. Large.

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