6 Spooky Facts You Never Knew About the Moon

That mysterious ball of rock 239,000 miles from Earth has inspired myths and superstitions for thousands of years. But sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Here, a few facts that will make you look at the night sky a little differently.

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There's a graveyard on the Moon
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There’s a graveyard on the Moon

Most of the 200 tons of trash on the Moon is space junk and ephemera crash-landed or left behind by the 12 astronauts who have visited since 1969: abandoned satellites, spent rockets, cameras, backpacks, and golf balls. But among the detritus on the Moon are the ashes of Eugene Shoemaker, one of the founders of the field of planetary science, sent skyward by NASA in a polycarbonate capsule.

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Shouting man
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“Lunatics” can blame the Moon

In the middle ages, scientists and philosophers believed that a full moon caused seizures and influenced episodes of fever and rheumatism. Because of the connection between the moon and unusual behaviour, the afflicted were called lunatics, or, literally, “moon sick.”

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Planet Earth with moon in the background
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The Moon is disappearing

Each year, the Moon’s orbit moves about four centimetres away from the Earth, meaning that in a mere 500 million years, the moon will be 14,600 miles farther away than it is right now.

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Footprints on the Moon
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There are fresh footprints on the Moon’s surface

Man hasn’t set foot on the Moon in more than four decades, and yet, fresh prints remain. Is this evidence of an alien life form? Is Bigfoot taking up extra-planetary residence? Nah, they’re just leftover astronaut footprints. Because there’s no wind or water on the Moon, tracks can last millions of years.

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A full moon might keep you awake
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A full moon might keep you awake

In a small study from the University of Basel in Switzerland, subjects monitored closest to a full moon experienced less deep sleep, produced less melatonin, and took five minutes longer to fall asleep that those monitored during other times of the month. Sleep researcher Marie Dumont, who wasn’t involved in the study, suggests that the full moon could indirectly affect the internal body clock by increasing volunteers’ exposure to light in the evening.

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Blood moon
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The truth about the blood moon

As many people witnessed in late September 2015, the moon really can turn an eerie shade of red under the right conditions. But despite werewolf warnings and apocalypse alerts, scientists define the so-called “blood” moon as a purely astrological event when the earth casts a rust-colored shadow on the Moon’s surface.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest