Viewing Moons of the Solar System: from Your Backyard

The moons of the solar system number in the countless millions. The planets Jupiter and Saturn each have at least sixty moons, which are also referred to as “natural satellites.”

Moons are orbiting six of the eight planets in the solar system. Only Mars and Earth have moons; Mercury and Venus are moonless planets. Mars has two moons, but both are quite minor in size.

The outer planets have a large number of moons, although the vast majority of them are not moons in the sense that a backyard astronomer would understand the term.

The moons of the solar system can be divided into two categories: regular and irregular.

This page will mostly focus on regular moons, which have an appearance that is comparable to that of our own moon… if we were observing it from the perspective of its parent planet.

With the exception of Triton, these moons orbit their planet in the same direction that the planet orbits the sun. Triton’s orbit is anti-clockwise. This type of orbit is called a prograde orbit.

Tidally locked moons are moons that orbit at regular intervals around the same parent body. This indicates that there is never a change in which side of the moon faces our planet.

There is only one known exception to this rule, and that is Hyperion. Titan’s gravitational pull is responsible for this phenomenon.

It is impossible for irregular moons to become tidally locked because they are too far from their parent bodies. Because they are not large enough, they can take on a variety of shapes because they have not yet attained hydrostatic equilibrium.

Irregular moons also frequently have retrograde orbits, which means that they orbit their parent planet in the opposite direction that the planet orbits the sun. This is because irregular moons tend to be larger than regular moons.

The moon orbiting Earth is one of the largest bodies found anywhere in the solar system. It is the only moon that can be seen by the naked eye and the celestial body that is located closest to Earth.

The moon is the only natural satellite that orbits close enough to Earth for a telescope to make out surface features on the satellite when viewed from Earth.

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