What would happen if the moon stopped orbiting the earth?

Sweden
May 19, 2009 6:47am CST
I just have a simple (?) question: What would happen if the moon stopped orbiting the earth? I've heard some theory about that it would hit the earth,because of earth's gravity,but according to some sources,that theory is wrong. Anybody that can think of something?
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2 responses
@chillpill90 (1937)
19 May 09
well it would depend on where it stopped if it stopped in front of the earth there would be eternal darkness as no matter what the moon would be blocking the earth getting any light.
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@owlwings (39218)
• Cambridge, England
20 May 09
Actually, that is not true. Total and partial eclipses of the sun occur regularly and the path of totality (where the sun's light is completely obscured) is only a few hundred miles wide at most, so even if the moon stopped in its tracks between the Earth and the Sun, only a very small part of the Earth would be in permanent darkness. You can see how solar eclipses work here: http://www.mreclipse.com/Special/SEprimer.html And there is a more technical article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse
@owlwings (39218)
• Cambridge, England
19 May 09
If the moon were travelling slower than it is, it would move closer to the earth. What keeps the moon in orbit round the earth is the balance between the tendency of a moving object to travel in a straight line and the pull of gravity between the two bodies. If the moon changed its speed or direction, it would either be drawn towards the Earth (and collide) or would find another orbit round the sun. Since the Earth and the Moon are a system in themselves, it is more than likely that any disturbance of the equilibrium would mean that the Earth and the Moon would come together.