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Hey there, Squeaks!

What are you looking at? [Squeaks squeaks] Oh, the Moon! That’s my favorite thing to look at through our telescope.

It’s so big and bright, and you can see tons of craters — those dips on the surface! Did you know that the Earth and the Moon are about the same age? They’re four and a half billion years old!

Earth’s moon is pretty cool, but it’s not the only moon in our solar system. I kind of like Earth’s moon best! But have you ever wondered where it came from?

Lots of scientists have wondered about that, too! And they think it had to do with a huge crash. Since the Earth and the Moon are around the same age, that means they both formed around the same time.

But Earth is a tiny bit older, so it formed first, and then we got our moon. Astronomers, scientists who study things in space, have a few different ideas about how exactly the Moon came to be. And after a lot of research to learn more about the Moon, here’s what they think happened: Around the same time the Earth was forming, when our solar system was very new, a planet about the size of Mars crashed into the Earth!

As that enormous rock, which astronomers sometimes call Theia, collided with the Earth, it would have made a huge impact, way bigger than any meteor crater! This crash was so powerful that rocks and other pieces of the Earth were launched up into space. Eventually, these rocks began to stick together and form what we know as the Moon.

What’s that, Squeaks? [Squeaks squeaks] Oh! Squeaks wants to know if the animals and plants on Earth were okay after the impact, and that's a great question. Well, there actually weren’t any animals or plants on Earth yet!

At the time the Moon was forming, the Earth was very new, and it didn’t look at all like the Earth we live on today. Back then, Earth was rocky and full of active volcanoes. It didn’t have any liquid water, plants, animals, or robots.

So there was nothing around to get hurt by the crash … just a lot of broken rocks. After the Moon formed, it also started to orbit, or go around the Earth, like how the Earth goes around the Sun. People on Earth have always been fascinated by the Moon, and scientists have been studying it for a long time.

We’ve learned a lot by sending spaceships to the Moon, and when astronauts visited, they even collected some rocks and brought them back to Earth to be studied. One really cool thing astronomers have learned by studying them is that some rocks on the Moon are a lot like rocks on Earth! And that’s exactly what you would expect if a lot of the Moon is made up of the Earth rocks that got launched into space when Theia crashed into us.

We still aren’t completely sure that the Moon formed from a huge crash. But it’s our best guess based on everything we know about Earth and the Moon. Since we can’t go back in time to see if a collision formed the Moon — as awesome as that sounds — studying Earth and Moon rocks is the best way for us to figure out what happened.

So, Earth and the Moon have some things in common! But the Moon is still a very different place from our planet. For one thing, the Moon is much smaller than Earth, and it doesn’t have air you can breathe, or oceans.

And it’s covered in craters. Those come from tons of giant asteroids hitting the Moon billions of years ago! Today, the Moon is over 400,000 kilometers away from the Earth!

That’s a very long trip. It’s about the same as going all the way around the Earth 10 times. So the next time you see the Moon in the sky, you'll have an idea of how it got there!

Thanks for joining us! If you want to keep learning and having fun with Squeaks and me, hit the subscribe button, and we’ll see you next time here at the Fort!