Quantitative Skills > Teaching Resources > Activities > BotEC: The Right Eye of the Man in the Moon

Back-of-the-Envelope Calculations: The Right Eye of the Man in the Moon

Barbara Tewksbury

Hamilton College
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Summary

Question

The "right eye" of the Man in the Moon is really Mare Imbrium, the central portion of a gigantic multi-ring basin formed by a colossal meteorite impact several billion years ago. Which of the following is approximately the same size as Mare Imbrium? Choose from the Pacific Ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean, Australia, Texas, and New York State.

Assessment

Answer

About the size of Texas. The main part of the Imbrium Basin is about 1150 km across, not even close to being the size of any of the terrestrial oceans. Many people visualize the Moon as being much larger than it really is!

References and Resources

This SERC page describes the use of Back of the Envelope Calculations

A View from the Back of the Envelope (more info) : This site has a good number of easy simulations and visualizations of back of the envelope calculations.

The Back of the Envelope : This page outlines one of the essays in the book "Programming Pearls" (ISBN 0-201-65788-0). The book is written for computer science faculty and students, but this portion speaks very well to back of the envelope calculations in general.

Controlled Vocabulary Terms

Subject: Geoscience:Lunar and Planetary Science
Resource Type: Activities:Classroom Activity:Short Activity
Special Interest: Quantitative
Quantitative Skills: Estimation
Ready for Use: Ready to Use
Topics: Solar system

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