The Moon

A natural satellite or moon is, in the most common usage, an astronomical body that orbits a planet or minor planet (or sometimes another Small Solar System Body).

In the Solar System there are six planetary satellite systems containing 178 known natural satellites. Four IAU-listed dwarf planets are also known to have natural satellites: Pluto, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris. As of January 2012, over 200 minor-planet moons have been discovered.

The Earth–Moon system is unique in that the ratio of the mass of the Moon to the mass of Earth is much greater than that of any other natural-satellite–planet ratio in the Solar System (although there are minor-planet systems with even greater ratios, notably the Pluto–Charon system). At 3,474 km (2,158 miles) across, Earth’s Moon is 0.27 times the diameter of Earth.

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