The Moon (Latin: Luna) is Earth's only natural satellite. Although not the largest natural satellite in the Solar System, among the satellites of major planets it is the largest relative to the size of the object it orbits ).
It is the second-densest satellite among those whose densities are known (after Jupiter's satellite Io).
The Moon is thought to have formed approximately 4.5 billion years ago, not long after Earth. Although there have been several hypotheses for its origin in the past, the current most widely accepted explanation is that the Moon formed from the debris left over after a giant impact between Earth and a Mars-sized body.
The Moon is in synchronous rotation with Earth, always showing the same face with its near side marked by dark volcanic maria that fill between the bright ancient crustal highlands and the prominent impact craters.
It is the second-brightest regularly visible celestial object in Earth's sky (after the Sun), as measured by illuminance on Earth's surface. Although it can appear a very bright white, its surface is actually dark, with a reflectance just slightly higher than that of worn asphalt. Its prominence in the sky and its regular cycle of phases have, since ancient times, made the Moon an important cultural influence on language, calendars, art, and mythology.
The Moon's gravitational influence produces the ocean tides and the slight lengthening of the day.
The Moon's current orbital distance is about thirty times the diameter of Earth, causing it to have an apparent size in the sky almost the same as that of the Sun. This allows the Moon to cover the Sun nearly precisely in total solar eclipse. This matching of apparent visual size is a coincidence. The Moon's linear distance from Earth is currently increasing at a rate of 3.82 ± 0.07 centimetres (1.504 ± 0.028 in) per year, but this rate is not constant.