"We are just beginning to try and figure out quantitatively how all this might smooth a surface," Dr. Thomas said in the May 17, 2013 New Scientist.
There are over 100 moons dancing around the eight major planets of our Sun's family. Most of them are small, frozen, icy objects, harboring only a relatively scanty amount of rocky material, that circle around the quartet of giant gaseous planets that dwell in the outer, frigid realm of our Solar System--far from the comforting warmth and brilliance of our Star. The quartet of majestic, giant denizens of our outer Solar System--Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune--are enveloped with gaseous atmospheres, and orbited by a multitude of dancing, sparkling moons and moonlets. In marked contrast, the inner region of our Solar System--where our Earth dwells--is almost bereft of moons. Of the quartet of relatively petite, rocky "terrestrial" planets--Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars--only Earth is circled by a large Moon. Mercury and Venus are moonless, and Mars is orbited by a duo of tiny, lumpy, potato-shaped moons, Phobos and Deimos. Phobos and Deimos are probably escaped asteroids, born in the Main Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter, that were captured by the gravitational embrace of the Red Planet long ago.
The moon's orbit. The moon's orbit is not on the same plane as the earth's orbit around the sun. If it were, every time we had a new moon we would have a solar eclipse, and every time we had a full moon we would have a lunar eclipse. Instead, the moon travels in a track that goes well above and well below the earth. Still, on occasion it will travel in between the sun and the earth and in this case, there will be an eclipse.