The Recent Organization 
of the Solar System
by Patten & Windsor  ©1995

CHAPTER 3

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The Earth's Capture of The Moon

  • In the words of Sherlock Holmes, ‘Eliminate the impossible and what is left, however improbable, is the truth.'
  • For a planet as small as the Earth to have so large a satellite, more than l% of its mass, is - some say - "improbable". The Moon is 1.23% of the Earth's mass. By comparison, Ganymede is only 0.008% of Jupiter's mass and Titan is only 0.024% of Saturn. Ganymede is a little over two Moon masses, and Titan is a little under two Moon masses.

    Particularly difficult is the mathematical problem of exactly how the Earth in its present orbit, velocity 66,600 mph, could capture any stray body. It makes no difference if it is a sphere like a small moon of Saturn, a fragment-shaped asteroid, an icy comet, a particle of interplanetary dust or a meteor stream or any part thereof. Any of these, approaching the Earth, will of necessity have a velocity of 69,000 mph or more.

    Theoretically such a body would speed up slightly while approaching the Earth, rather than slow down. The Earth's gravity has a zone of capture, where it can successfully hold on to an object, competing with the Sun's gravity. That zone of control has a radius of slightly less than 750,000 miles. Any object, whatever its size, would enter, and pass entirely through this "zone of control&qruot; in 20.7 hours. During this brief period, such a prospect for capture would have to suddenly slow down, and suddenly change directions. The Earth's mass is too small to achieve such a capture.

    Nevertheless, gradualistic dogma is that the Earth encountered the Moon and trapped it in this present high velocity environment. Here, our tiny planet's velocity is 66,600 mph and the Moon's velocity is close to 69,000 mph. Mathematically, at such velocities, capture would be impossible - not merely improbable.

    <> The First Story

    It is obvious that the Earth has captured the Moon. That is unless one favors ex nihilo creation, in which case an unknowable [magical] force is involved in the sudden appearance of both Earth and Moon. It is obvious that here the Earth advanced 66,600 mph around the Sun. And it is obvious that the Moon revolves at about 2,288 mph around the Earth. It is obvious that the Moon has an orbit with the average radius 238,860 miles. Its orbit eccentricity is .05.

    What is not as obvious, but equally true, is that the Earth has a finite zone of control, beyond which the Sun becomes the prime focus for the elliptical orbit of any neighboring object. The Earth's "zone of control" in astronomical parlance is termed its "radius of action."

    For the Earth, this distance ranges between 725,000 miles and 750,000 miles from the Earth's center. Its radius of action varies a little depending on if the Earth is nearing perihelion (91,500,000 miles to the Sun) or aphelion (94,500,000 miles to the Sun.) According to Kuiper's calculation, the distance to the edge of the zone of the Earth's control is only an approximation. That distance is calculated as follows:

  • This is when = M sub planet/(Mass of the Sun) + (Mass of the Earth.) As mentioned above, the radius of this zone for the Earth expands a little at aphelion (94,500,000 miles from the Sun) and contracts a little at perihelion (91,500,000 miles.) F1

    If the Moon strayed near to the Earth where the Earth's orbit is now, the Moon would have entered the Earth's zone of control at a velocity exceeding 70,000 mph. Theoretically, the Moon's maximum trajectory inside the Earth's zone of control (radius of action) is 2 x radius of zone, or 1,500,000 miles. Thus if a slowdown of the Moon were to occur, and a radical redirection, both would have to be effected in less than 20.7 hours.

    The first difficulty is that a Moon approaching both the Sun and the Earth would "speed up." Gradualist dogma requires the Moon to be slowing down, and doing so rapidly. In addition, if the Moon were approaching its theoretical perihelion, it would speed up due to the Sun's gravity too. Yet, what is needed is for the Moon to lose velocity - to suddenly lose 96% to 97% of its velocity. For a physicist to propose such a capture of the Moon on the fly under these conditions is mathematical madness.

    Yet, the Moon was captured, even if it could not have been. The Moon acquired an orbit around the Earth with a radius of perhaps 238,800 miles, or perhaps 242,000 miles depending on how one views planetary catastrophism. This is deeply within the Earth's zone of control. The Moon somehow also achieved an eccentricity of .055. This is the kind of problem which gives gradualist astronomers nightmares, even when their allegiance to the dogma of gradualism is less than total.

    Thus we see the gradualist conclusion for what it is. On the one hand one can say that the Earth has captured the Moon but on the other hand one can say that our Earth could not possibly have made such a capture. What is the crux of the problem?

    The problem is solved by modeling that the Earth-Moon system originated in a region far, far out beyond Pluto. The most likely distance is between 900 and 1,000 a.u. This is 25 times as distant as is Pluto's orbit. This is 93,000,000,000 miles from the Sun.

    Switching Foci

    In such a remote, distant, frigid region, the Moon's orbit would have an elliptical orbit, with the Sun being at the prime focus of its orbit ellipse. There, the Sun's gravitational attraction is about one-millionth of that attraction at its current distance, 93,000,000 miles. Out there, if the Moon came close to the Earth, it would merely (and gracefully) switch its prime orbit focus from the Sun to the Earth. It would be achieved as easily as switching partners during a Virginia reel. It would be as easy as catching a QUICK TAXI at a corner instead of waiting for a bus. While the Moon would change its prime focus, it would not even have to change its velocity at all. There its former velocity around the Sun would have been about 2,250 mph. With a velocity close to 2,250 mph, the Moon would naturally assume an orbit around the Earth with an average radius of somewhere between 240,000 and 242,000 miles, slightly different than its current orbit at 238,850 miles.

    The problem as to how the Earth captured the Moon then becomes, "How was the once very distant Earth-Moon system delivered together to its present address." Its present address is the Sun's inner region, well lighted, virtually at the Sun's door step.

    Is there evidence that such a delivery system existed and in fact made such a delivery? Is there any evidence that such a radical change in the environment of the Earth-Moon system occurred? Ours is a search for evidence --- not a search for mere opinions, opinions often flawed with gradualist tradition and dogma.

    Clue #1–The Density of Lunar Craters

    One bit of evidence is the Moon's rather considerable density of craters. The entire Moon's surface is dominated by walled craters. Some are immense. Many are small. Its crater count is huge.

    But the craters are not distributed evenly. The far side of the Moon was never seen until Ranger 7 and 8 returned with photographs in l964 and l965. The near side of the Moon is densely populated with craters and that has been known ever since the invention of the telescope. Now it is known that the far side, somewhat more exposed to external forces, is even more densely populated with craters than is the Moon's near, and visible side.

    There is no reasonable doubt that this difference is due to the fact that the Moon does not rotate. It shows only one side to the Earth, its inward side. The inward side of the Moon was less exposed to wandering missiles. The far side was more exposed.

    This is evidence that distant space, at 1,000 a.u. and beyond, is thickly populated with stray debris. There is not and never was that large amount of debris in the region of the present orbit of the Earth-Moon system. And this is evidence that the Moon acquired its numerous craters elsewhere.

    Thus the Moon acquired many craters before its capture by the Earth. Subsequently, after capture in that remote region, it acquired additional craters as a junior partner of the Earth-Moon system when both were in deep, dark, frigid, remote space. There, as junior partner, its far side was more exposed to miscellaneous debris in space than was its inner side facing the Earth.

    This differential cratering of the far side of the Moon versus the near side is interesting. Both crater populations are dense. The self-appointed spokesmen for the "creation ex nihilo" crowd contends that the Moon was [magically] suddenly created in its present orbit less than 20,000 years ago. They sometimes add that it was suddenly created in a condition heavily sprinkled with craters. The evidence of course is otherwise. But some of them endeavor to pass this off to the faithful as what they term "creation science." Their reasoning is absurd, but their pretense is, if anything, even worse.

    On the other hand, the gradualists need evidence for a lot of wandering debris having once been in the inner solar system (near the Earth's present orbit.) Here, one finds a dozen and a half meteor streams, 80 or 90 stray icy comets and at best only a few dozen stray asteroids.

    It does not make any difference gradualists appeal for 4.0 billion years or more time. It doesn't make any difference if they appeal to the old saw that "given four billion years, anything could happen." The volume of interstellar debris to achieve pocking the face of the Moon isn't here, and by all indications, such a volume never has been here. This is their dilemma, not ours.

    We expect there is a lot of miscellaneous debris circling the Sun in the region of 900 and 1,000 a.u., 25 times as far out as Pluto. The density of craters on the Moon is one item of evidence of a high volume of debris in remote space. As we shall see later, in chapter 7, after an appropriate foundation has been laid, the even higher density of craters on tiny Mercury is a second, supporting evidence. Orbiting near tiny Mercury are no meteor streams, no icy comets and only one known fragment, the asteroid Icarus.

    Mercury, like the Moon, is also a badly battered, banged up, bleak and blasted ball of basalt. Mercury's diameter is 3,010 miles while the Moon's diameter is 2,l60 miles. It looks like both acquired the vast majority of their craters in the remote regions of 1,000 a.u. from the Sun, if not even more remote. These two bodies seem to have similar histories. As mentioned above, further comment on Mercury's craters, including their dissimilarities with the Moon's craters, is in Chapter 7.

    We repeat, in the Moon's current environment, there are just a small handful of wandering asteroids to create the immense crater count on the Moon. And, to repeat, in Mercury's environment, there are no meteor streams, no icy comets, and the number of asteroids known to be in its environment is but one. Yet its crater population is seemingly more dense than the far side of the Moon. Mercury's typical craters have terraced, partially melted-down crater walls; the Moon's crater walls are not even partially melted. This fact, in addition to the crater count on both Mercury and the Moon, pose a dilemma of the dogmatic gradualist. (The plot thickens as more becomes known about the crater walls of Mercury's very numerous craters.)

    Clue #2–The Accretion of Moon Dust

    The Moon accretes an estimated 200 tons of miscellaneous dust per day. The Moon's radius is 1,080 miles. Multiplying by 4 x Pi x radius squared, surface area of the Moon is 14,600,000 sq. miles. There are 27,878,400 square feet per sq. mile.

    Assume Moon dust weighs at the most 200 lb. per cu. ft. At this rate, in its current environment, it would require 2.8 million years for the Moon to accumulate 12 inches of dust across its entire surface. In a mere 2.8 billion years, a short to medium range of time in gradualist dogma, the Moon in its present orbit would have a layer of dust 1,000 feet deep. This was a concern to those planning the first lunar landing, but it wasn't true. Astronauts Conrad et al of Apollo 12 measured the regolith of the Moon in 1969. The surface regolith was a combination of loose rock and "soil." At six places its depth was tested.

    Direct measurements have been made only from the sites of the successful Apollo missions (11, 12 and 14 through 17 inclusive) - a mere half dozen in all - but they were obtained from diverse areas and provide reliable clues. It seems that over the maria the average depth of the regolith is from 4 to 5 m. while over the highlands it may go down to 10 m and even deeper in places. F2

    The average depth was found to be 14 to 15 feet. If the Moon's regolith were pure dust from space, it would allow for only 42,000,000 years for the Moon in its present environment. But the Moon has had two environments; it also gathered dust before its delivery to the doorstep of the Sun. Probably the majority of the moon dust was acquired before the delivery of the Earth-Moon system to the Sun. The shallowness of moon dust, once interplanetary dust, is evidence that the Earth-Moon system has been around the Sun for something less than 42 million years, clearly for much less than 4.6 billion years.

    The motto of gradualism is "the present is the key to the past." This motto was coined by a Scottish geologist, James Hutton, in 1795. Perhaps this motto needs to be updated. We, as planetary catastrophists, recommend "the past is the key to the present". In its own time, planetary catastrophism will become the key to understanding the history of the Earth-Moon system, and quite a history it has been. Our projected four volumes possibly five, on Earth-Moon system history, will only scratch the scarred surfaces.

    Clue #3–The Velocity of The Moon

    In our age, the distance of the Moon is 238,860 miles. Its period (synodic) is 29.53 days but sidereal is 27.32 days. Its velocity is 2,289 mph.

    But the ancient calendars had 30 days per month in over a dozen major cultures, not 29.53 (synodic). This leads us to suspect that the Moon's period in the Catastrophic Era was not today's period of 29.53 days but its period was closer to 30 days (when measured synodically).

    Using Kepler's laws, we can project the Moon's orbit in the Catastrophic Era, with 30 days per month, at about 24l,300 miles from the Earth. The difference is 1.044% farther out then than now. This means the Moon's velocity in the Catastrophic Era was slightly slower, about 2,273 mph. Gradualists and nihilo creationists alike have missed the significance of this unity in display of ancient calendars. We shall explain it further in a chapter in Volume II.

    Be it as rapid as 2,289 mph or as slow as 2,273 mph, the importance of the Moon's velocity is that its modern velocity is an indication of its distance from the Sun when the Earth captured it. Captures have complicated aspects and issues, to be sure. But one can identify the region in space where these velocities are normal when circling the Sun. It is 900 to 1,000 a.u. (83 to 93 billion miles) from the Sun. We identify this region of capture in two ways. One is distance, 900 to 1,000 a.u. from the Sun. The second way is plane, astride the ecliptic plane of the planets. There is a third way, but the foundation for this method is yet to be laid. It has to do with orientation of the semi-major axis of Jupiter. It points to "Cancer" as the most likely direction of arrival on the ecliptic plane. The foundation for this conclusion will be laid shortly.

    At a distance of 950 a.u. from the Sun, a planet with a modest orbit eccentricity will have a velocity of 2,160 mph. This distance is perfect for the velocity of the Earth to effect such a capture, for the Moon to do the Virginia reel, exchanging partners and acquiring its present inner orbit, less than 250,000 miles from the Earth. What apparently occurred was that the Moon approached the Earth with several favorable conditions. One was a favorable velocity. Another was a favorable angle.

    A third was a favorable position for Venus and a fourth was a favorable position for the delivery system, which shortly we shall entitle "L. B." or Little Brother. Then, for its primary focus, the Moon simply divorced the remote Sun in favor of the smaller, but much nearer Earth. Under the appropriate stresses, divorce is common in our country. Also, under the appropriate conditions, divorce and remarriage can occur in the cosmos. On its first approach (perigee), the Moon pivoted toward, and then around the Earth. Next it was restrained by the Earth's co-orbiting companion, which we shall see was Venus. And perhaps Little Brother as well.

    Then the Moon settled into an orbit that agreed with its previous velocity around the Sun. It was a smooth capture; the main difference was that the Earth's crust suddenly began to experience lunar tides. Our model of capture requires that in deep space, the Earth co-orbited with its sister planet, the planet Venus, a planet which is 81.5% as massive as the Earth. Evidence of this condition occurs in a later chapter, Chapter Six herein. The Moon pivoted on the Earth, but its partner Venus also had a major role in the Earth keeping it. Without the aid of a co-orbiting Venus in an advantageous position, capture of the Moon probably would not have been possible.

    At 950 a.u., this orbit is 182 times farther out than is Jupiter's orbit (averaging 483,300,000 miles from the Sun.) And it is 31.6 times as far out as is Neptune, which averages 2,800,000,000 miles from the Sun. Light traveling at 186,000 mps will reach the Earth in 8.3 minutes. Light will reach Jupiter in 26 minutes, and Pluto in 3 hours 17 minutes. It will reach the 950 a.u. zone in 5+ days. This distance is about 1.5% of a light year. Figure 1 illustrates.

    The Sun, Pluto, 950 A.U. and a Light Year

    Of equal interest, or perhaps even greater importance is the period of a body at 950 a.u. A typical period the Moon, the Earth or any miscellaneous debris at 950 a.u. is 29,300 years. It is virtually a 30,000-year period. Such a period of time is more than 2,500 times the period of Jupiter, and it is almost 120 times as long as Pluto's 248-year period. See Figure 1.

    Clue #4–The Region of Acquiring Twin Spins

    There is a fourth clue indicating the Earth once was out there in such a remote region. Clue 4 involves the explanation as to why Mars and the Earth have twin spins. Mars spins once in 1477 minutes and the Earth rotates slightly faster, once in 1436 minutes (sidereal measurement). Their spin rates are 97.2% identical. Shortly we will demonstrate that such twin spins for these two planets were acquired, and could have been acquired only by a catastrophic process in a region remote such as 900 a.u. or 1,000 a.u., or more from the Sun. The foundation for acquisition of twin spins will be laid in the next chapter, chapter 4.

    Mars-Earth twin spins comprise only one pair. Our solar system contains three such pairs of similar, seemingly harmonious, complimentary, paired spin rates. But we are getting ahead of our story.

    Clue #5 - Unlike Densities of The Earth and Moon

    Water has a density of 1.00. The Moon has a density of 3.34. The density of Mars is 3.93 and of Venus is 5.24. The Earth, the densest of all nine planets, has a density of 5.52. The Moon and the Earth are composed of different mixes of materials, and different mixes of elements. It is reasonable to conclude, therefore, that they were formed at different places, at different times, under different conditions. The capture of the Moon by the Earth came later.

    Story 1 - Plans For A Seventy Story Skyscraper of Cosmology

    Our plans are for the 70-story skyscraper of celestial cosmology. It features planetary catastrophism. Included on the first floor, or our first story, is our theory on capture of the Moon by the Earth at 950 a.u. (85,000,000,000 miles) or more from the Sun.

    Also included in this first floor is a library. The library is to contain all of the works of the great early pioneers of astronomy like Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, Halley, Newton, etc. in astronomy and cosmology.

    In the 18th century, Swedenborg, Kant and Laplace came forward with their gradualist idea for the origin of the Solar System. They persuaded the academic community in Northern Europe to call their concept "science". Thus it was that this 18th century trio led science in taking a large step backward. They did the same thing that Claudius Ptolemy, the map maker of the second century A.D. had done for the Roman world some 1700 years earlier. Except Ptolemy convinced the Roman academia of a flat Earth. In contrast, Swedenborg, Kant and Laplace persuaded the scientific community of gradualism in the cosmos.

    The works of Swedenborg, Kant and other gradualists will be there in the library. Others have attempted to fine tune their Nebular Hypothesis as a variety of difficulties kept arising. They include George Darwin, Chamberlin, Moulton, Jeans, Russell, Lyttleton, Alfven and others. A historical review of their efforts and their effects on science is presented later chapter 10 of this volume.

    So also in this library will be the works of the some of the great early pioneers in geology. These great pioneers in geology were all catastrophists. Some were "Neptunists", feeling that water had been the primary sculpting agent. Others were "Plutonists", feeling flowing magma and crustal deformation were more important. Both, incidentally, were correct.

    But as Kant's and Laplace's gradualism was accepted as if it was science, those great pioneers became shunned. They were shunned as old fashioned, unenlightened by the new 19th century enlightened disciples of gradualism, the Lyellians, who assumed that they knew better.

    These great pioneer geologists are still shunned today. Their seminal works are needed in the library of catastrophism. The works will include such great pioneers in geology as Louis Agassiz (Mr. Ice Age, 1807-1883). It will also include the works of Robert Jamieson (1774-1854), Baron Cuvier (Six Floods for the Paris Basin, 1769-1832), Comte Buffon (1707-1778), William Paley (1743-1805), William Whiston (1667-1752), Abraham Gottlob Werner (1750-1817) and more recently, the leading catastrophist of the early 20th century, George McCready Price.

  • To him who alone doeth great wonders;
    for his mercy endureth for ever,

    To him that by wisdom made the heavens;
    for his mercy endureth for ever,

    To him that stretched out the earth above the waters;
    for his mercy endureth for ever,

    To him that made great lights;
    for his mercy endureth for ever,

    The Sun to rule by day;
    for his mercy endureth for ever,

    The Moon and stars to rule by night;
    for his mercy endureth for ever. Psalm l36:4-9

  • Conclusion

    The Earth's "Zone of Control" (also known as its radius of action) is 750,000 miles in its present orbit relationship to the Sun. Velocities of astronomical bodies in this region range from 66,600 mph and above. To affirm that the Earth captured the Moon here, at such velocities, is possibly politically correct in this age, but it is mathematical madness. The crater count on the Moon, as well as on the surface of Mercury, are numerous. The count of asteroids in this inner part of the Inner Solar System are very few. So are the counts of icy comets and meteor streams. This indicates that both the Moon and Mercury acquired their craters in another distant environment, one rich in an assortment of wandering celestial debris.

    There is enough dust and soil on the Moon to justify a few tens of million years of dust accretion at the current rate of accretion. But if the Moon was captured by the Earth in deep space, much of the Moon's regolith also was captured in that cold, remote region, and in its previous era. Moreover, that is where and when the most of its craters were acquired.

    A depth of 12 to 15 feet of regolith has been measured on the Moon at six drilling sites as was reported by the astronauts. This has both pleased NASA and disappointed gradualists, who expected Moon dust to be much deeper and the going for the astronauts to be considerably more difficult.

    Gradualists expected a layer one or two hundred feet thick, or as was feared, even 500 to 1,000 feet thick. This could be acquired in 4.6 billion years, a time frame which gradualists frequently use both in their dogma and propaganda. Rethinking needs to be done about the history of the solar system from data on the depth of Moon dust.

    The Earth is the densest of the planets. If compared to water, the density of water is 1.0 and the density of the Earth is 5.52. Venus and Mercury have densities like the Earth, at 5.24 and 5.43 respectively. But not the Moon.

    The Moon's density is 3.34, which is lighter even than Mars' density (3.93). The Moon has been formed with a different mix of materials than the Earth, and likely, at a different place, remote in the remote cosmos.

    The Moon and the Earth also have different masses; the Earth is 81 times as massive. Thus, when the Moon first approached the Earth, its approach must have been rather close. Venus, the Earth's co-orbiting partner, helped in the capture of the Moon. Perhaps the delivery system helped even more.

    How far out in the cosmos is "far enough" for the capture of the Moon? It is 250 times as far as Jupiter's orbit, or more. It is 32 times as far as out as Neptune's orbit, and 24 times as far out, or more, than Pluto's orbit. Orbital velocities are diminished as distance from the Sun increases. Mercury's orbital velocity is 107,000 mph. The Earth's is 66,600 mph. Jupiter's velocity is 29,200 mph. Pluto's is l0,600 miles per hour. At 950 a.u. a planet's velocity, or that of a fragment, will be 2,160 mph. This is an ideal velocity for the Earth to capture the Moon and retain it with the Moon's velocity virtually unchanged.

    Under these conditions it would be easy for the Moon to pivot around the Earth. To effect a capture, however, the Earth needed some help.

    Footnotes

  • F 1 Gerard P. Kuiper, Planets and Satellites. Chicago, Univ. of Chicago Press, l961, p. 577-578.

    F 2 Patrick Moor and Hunt, Garry, Atlas of the Solar System. Chicago, Rand McNally, 1983, p. 152.




  • The Recent Organization of The Solar System  by Patten & Windsor
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