A simulation of the evolution of the Moon by the European Southern Observatory.

While the Moon today is favoured by poets for its reliable stoicism, this video tells the more violent origin story of Earth’s faithful companion.

Following its birth, likely due to a collision between a Mars-sized object and Earth some 4.5 billion years ago, the Moon’s surface cooled and solidified. Just as the Moon was becoming a stable environment, it was peppered with asteroids, as happened to all inner-Solar System objects, during a period known as the Late Heavy Bombardment, igniting a flurry of volcanic activity.

Between 4.5 and 4.3 billion years ago, a very large object struck near the Moon’s south pole, creating the South Pole-Aitken Basin, one of the two largest proven impact basins in the Solar System. This extended series of collisions caused molten rock below the Moon’s surface to rise, expand and finally cool, creating the ‘Maria’ we see today, so called due to the first observers of the Moon supposing the dark patches to be oceans.

Category: Astronomy, Planetary science, Solar System
Running time: 2 mins
Released in: 2015
Suitable for: KS2, KS3, KS4, KS5, Adults