General Question

gorillapaws's avatar

Rotation of the Moon?

Asked by gorillapaws (27301points) April 7th, 2008

The moon rotates 360 degrees every day such that the same side is always facing Earth, right? Is there a reason for this or is it just a ridiculously huge coincidence?

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4 Answers

steelmarket's avatar

Tidal locking. See here on Wikipedia:

gorillapaws's avatar

Perfect, thanks for the response. So essentially the Earth and the Moon are just the slightest bit egg shaped towards each other and that keeps them locked if I read that right?

steelmarket's avatar

The bulges, caused by mutual gravitational forces, actually created a slight drag that caused the tidal locking.

gailcalled's avatar

And for accuracy’s sake, the moon rotates 360 degrees during the 28 or so days it takes to orbit the earth one time. There are slight wiggles that enable us to peek at the edges of the dark side of the moon, also. Celestial Mechanics are fascinating but complicated. At least we can simplify by looking at the moon/earth as a two-body problem. Fun, though.

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