How far away is the Moon?

This question was prompted by this tweet by @mikemcsharry.

A numerical answer to this question is really easy to find: a quick Google search gives various answers all in the region of 384,400 kilometres. Great. Job done... right?

But how far is that?
384,400 km is a long way- I don't think anyone's going to argue with that. But it's such a long way (as with most astronomy questions that begin with "how far...") that it begs the question can we really get our heads around it? Well, we can have a go:
  • It's about 30 times the diameter of the Earth. Put another way: you could fit thirty more objects that were the size of the Earth between us and the Moon.
  • It's about than 0.25 % of the distance between Earth and the Sun. That means that the Sun is nearly 400 times further away from us than the Moon is*.
  • You could drive the full length of the M1 motorway, from London to Leeds in the UK 1,200 times and still have a bit further to go before you'd travelled far enough.
  • You could experience the same distance if you travelled from London (UK) to New York (USA) and back again around 35 times.
Some silly ones...
  • You could fit over 11 and a half million Blue Whales, 13 million standard tennis courts, or nearly 35 million London Buses between the Earth and Moon.
  • 9 thousand marathons would get you there.
  • Assuming an average walking speed of 5 km/h and no rest stops, it'd take you getting on for nine years to get there on foot. The average marathon runner can reach about 20 km/h, so it would take them just over two years to do the same journey.
  • You could get there just by doing this...
There's also this image:
By User:Acdx, via Wikimedia Commons
In it, the Earth and Moon are shown to scale in terms of both size and distance away from each other. Further than you thought?

* Incidentally, the Sun is about 400 times bigger than the Moon, which is why they look about the same size where we are. Weird, huh?


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