Star Stories
Tales from the night sky of Tenerife, brought to you by the guides of the stars!
“You can be The Moon and still be jealous of the stars!”
The weekly review from the guides of the stars!

Hi everyone, a little later than expected this week but here we are again.  This week I want to talk about something that, for us as stargazers, is a little annoying at times.  However, for me it fascinates me.  Taking pictures and observing the Moon is one aspect of stargazing I love, although it can blight the starriest of dark skies.  So today we focus on the Moon and the new theories carrying real traction as to its formation.

Firstly lets look at the old theory.  In Earths early formation years a Mars sized planet called Theia collided with Earth in a glancing blow and the resulting debris formed a disc that eventually clumped together caught in the gravity of the earth to form the moon.

However, new theories seem to be able to explain more of the questions about the moon than we thought possible.  Like why the Earth and the Moon have such similar chemical compositions if they were two different planets? Surely the moons should have the oxygen thumb print that every planet has of mostly Theia?

“The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to.”
― Carl Sandburg

New theories are that Theia didn’t give The Earth a glancing blow but in fact smashed straight into it Vaporising both planets.  This would of caused vaporized molten rock at super heated temperatures to swam in a seething,spinning cloud known as a Synestia.  A synestia forms when a collision between planet-sized objects results in a rapidly spinning mass of molten and vaporized rock with part of the body in orbit around itself. The whole object puffs out into a giant donut of vaporized rock.

 

Synestias dont last long, probably only hundreds of years.  They shrink rapidly as they loose heat and turn vapor into liquid which eventually clumps to form molten planets.  This model predicts that the moon was formed first on the outer regions of the cloud.  It would of clumped together and risen to temperatures of tens of thousands of degrees Fahrenheit.  The Earth was slightly slower to form and this could solve another of the mysteries.  Why the moon seems to be so low in certain elements.  As the moon was already formed, when it was super heated sulpher and other elements vaporised and left the molten planet as gaseous vapors and were stolen by the forming planet Earth. As the gas cloud shrank first emerged the moon followed closely by the Earth.

I really like this version of both the Earth and Moons formation.  It clears up a lot of unanswered questions about the elements from rock samples brought back from moon landings.  Next time you look at the Moon, maybe you will think about Theia smashing into the Earth and both of Vaporising?  Or maybe you will just wonder…Is it realy made of Wensleydale?  Either way, I hope you enjoyed this first blog about the Moon.  Theres more to tell but that will be for another day.

The pictures today have been taken by myself, people on tours with us at Mount Teidi and of course our resident Astro Photographer Peter Louer.

Until the next time, this is Stargazing Tenerife team signing out, live long and prosper!

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