For millennia now, the Moon has dazzled on in the night sky. In many ancient cultures, the Moon was revered and often represented a deity and was accorded some divine significance.
It wasn’t until the age of Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages that we made sufficient scientific strides to realize that the Moon was pretty much just another heavenly body like the Planets in the land beyond yonder.
Having revealed this, it’s worth noting that our knowledge of the cosmos was rapidly revolutionized by Galileo Galilei’s discovery of the moons of Jupiter while taking a peek at his telescope. According to legend, he didn’t actually recognize the “four wandering stars” to be moons right away. He had to observe keenly to realize that the celestial objects were actually moons of Jupiter.
Galilei’s breakthrough moment was special since it was the very first time in astronomy that scientists came to realize that other than Earth, solar system planets could actually harbor their own moons. In some instances, the number of moons to be discovered is actually a couple of dozens.
The planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are considered to be terrestrial planets. In essence, this means that they are made of silicate rock and minerals that are distinguished between a metallic core and a silicate mantle and crust.
The rest, i.e. Mercury and Venus are believed to have none thanks to their proximity to the sun. While it’s highly plausible that they once did have moons in orbit around them, the Sun’s gravitational influence around these planets is too strong for any moon to exist in these planets’ vicinity. Mercury is also very diminutive meaning that its own gravitational pull is too weak to ably grab a passing object into orbit.
Our home planet has a single moon, known as the Moon. While it’s the 5th largest in solar system moon, it’s quite large compared to the planet it orbits (i.e. Earth).
The red planet has 2 moons aptly named after Greek mythological characters: Phobos and Deimos. Much like Earth’s own Moon, the two moons are tidally locked to Mars. This means that they are always facing one side of the planet.
Notably, the 2 moons are quite different in that they have a slightly rough, asteroid-like appearance.
It’s a whole different ballgame once you make it past the Asteroid Belt. Most of the planets in this region are abundantly blessed with Moons.
Today, there are 79 known moons orbiting Jupiter. The 4 largest moons are Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto. Since Galileo Galilei is credited as the one who discovered them, they are aptly referred to as Galilean moons.
Saturn has a total of 62 known moons. Of these, Titan ranks as the biggest and is closely followed up by Rhea.
Constitutionally speaking, Saturn is composed of 24 regular moons and 38 irregular moons. Incidentally, as the 2nd largest solar system moon, Titan is also larger than Mercury.
The planet Uranus has 27 moons. Titania is the largest moon on Uranus and has a coplanar orbit.
Neptune has a total of 14 moons. The biggest moon is called Triton and orbits the planet in a backward pattern, a phenomenon described as retrograde orbit.
Since the dawn of space exploration, we’ve made numerous trips to the different satellites in our solar system. Of course, the most famous explorations have been to our very own Moon. The Apollo 11 mission still retains a special spot in history thanks to the magnitude of the occasion.
Caption: The Moon has been walked on by 12 people, all American Males
Alt-text: Image showing silhouettes before the Moon
Going forward, scientists believe that there will be more unmanned and robotic missions to explore the moons of our solar system. Excitingly, some private companies have stepped into the scene and helped reignite the conversation about space exploration among the masses.
Having analyzed the different solar system moons and even named a couple of moons orbiting Jupiter, we’re confident you’re adequately informed about all that appertains natural satellites this side of the Milky Way Galaxy.
To commemorate 50 years since the Apollo 11 mission, we launched a special augmented reality enabled model named Lunar Max. As the biggest moon in our collection, there’s plenty of fun learning to be experienced with the model in tow.
To further compliment your experience, there’s also the really special Moon Phase mug that keeps you in the know about the different phases of the moon throughout the year. Cool stuff right?