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Why can't you see the far side of the Moon?

From Earth, you can only see one side of the Moon. This side is termed the near side of the Moon. Is it thought that long ago when the Moon was still in formation, the Earth's gravity slowed the Moon's spin. The Moon now rotates once as it orbits the Earth, allowing for the same side to always face the Earth so that the far side remains a mystery to any Earth-bound observer.

Many people speculated that there were strange mysteries on the far side of the Moon (black monoliths maybe?). In 1959, Russia's spacecraft Luna 3 left the Earth and headed to the Moon. It returned the first picture of the far side. Then in 1968 on Christmas eve, three men, Borman, Lovell, and Anders saw the far side of the moon with their own eyes as their Apollo 8 spacecraft circumnavigated the Moon.

Anders was a bit disappointed with what he saw that Christmas eve. His description of the far side of the Moon was that it was the color of dirty beach sand and that the landscape was of unrelenting sameness - crater upon crater, hill upon battered hill.

Submitted by Matthew (Georgia, USA)
(October 1, 1997)



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