The moon is actually lemon shaped, not round, says new study

1 Aug 2014

Once again our moon is facing comparisons with foodstuffs as a new study has found its spherical shape is an illusion and the celestial body is in fact, shaped like a lemon.

The comparison between the rocky satellite and the citrus fruit has been made by Ian Garrick-Bethell, a planetary scientist at University of California and his team of scientists, who have just published their findings in Nature in what is hoped will be an end to the long-standing debate about the moon’s shape.

For years, scientists have found it difficult to pinpoint the exact shape of the moon because of large craters across its surface, as well as differences between measurements and what its perceived history is, The New York Times reported.

Because of the issues regarding measurement and craters, Garrick-Bethell and his team overcame this by using a laser altimeter and advanced maps of the moon’s surface to judge what it would look like without the craters: “Like a lemon with an equatorial bulge,” said Garrick-Bethell. “If you can imagine a water balloon flattening out as you spin it.”

They believe the moon’s squashed appearance, which makes it look like a sphere, is most likely due to the gravitational pull that stretched the moon’s surface as it slowly cooled billions of years ago as the Earth was also forming.

The moon image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic