Exposing PseudoAstronomy

April 2, 2014

Podcast Episode 105: A Fission Origin for the Moon, Part 1

Could the Moon have formed
By budding off a young Earth?
Or, does that not work?

I know Graham’s not going to be happy, but I’m putting off the Pioneer Anomaly episode for at least another two. Instead, this is the first of a two-parter on the fission model of solar system object formation. You might be thinking that this is a repeat of Episode 53 (lunar formation, though I’m sure you know all the episode subjects by heart), but it’s not. I go much more in-depth into the historic context, evidence for it at the time, but subsequent problems and why no scientist accepts it today (though some pseudoscientists do, which is what I’ll be talking more about in Part 2).

Due to time constraints (lots of cleaning, a “for realz” job interview with USGS tomorrow, and various other things), there is only the main segment and a New News related to Episode 85 (blood moons) — if it’s visible from your location, don’t miss the total lunar eclipse in two weeks!!

Oh, and the Reality Remix interview should be posted on their website, and I’ll be posting it shortly. I suggest clicking on the link for non-Flash users, it might work significantly better.



  1. Very good. One nit to pick — it’s in Mike Bara’s book ‘Ancient Aliens on the Moon’, not ‘The Choice’, that he espouses Van Flandern’s fission theories. Planetary formation by solar fission, as well as lunar formation by terrestrial fission (at an early epoch when the Earth was still molten.)

    Comment by Expat — April 2, 2014 @ 10:11 am | Reply

    • I thought that in The Choice he talks about Mars’ ellipticity, which he argued supports fission.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — April 2, 2014 @ 10:13 am | Reply

      • Yes that’s correct. But that’s solar fission, not terrestrial.

        Comment by Expat — April 2, 2014 @ 10:40 am

      • Got it. And I just re-read the free preview for AAotMoon and yes, he does go into fission a bit in that, but he doesn’t go too far in the free preview.

        Comment by Stuart Robbins — April 2, 2014 @ 11:52 am

  2. From AAotM, p.16:
    “In van Flandern’s model, the Moon didn’t break away from the primordial Earth _after_ it cooled and solidified, it spun off out of the early _molten_ Earth. This would also explain why the Moon is made up primarily of material from the Earth’s lighter mantle, rather than the heavier iron-rich core. The only observation that isn’t accounted for is the fact that the Moon’s orbital plane is inclined by 5.14° to the Earth’s. However, there could be numerous explanations for this (like later impacts which forced the Moon to a different position) and so this is not a show-stopper for the theory.”

    I think there’s a problem with that. Surely a molten Earth is not yet differentiated as between mantle and core — that only happened as part of the cooling phase. What do you think?

    Comment by Expat — April 2, 2014 @ 3:05 pm | Reply

  3. Not sure on the timescale there, but a paper I think just came out that shows the moon is only 100 Myr younger than Earth, or than the rest of the solar system. I think in that time Earth would have differentiated, at least iron-nickel vs lighter silicates.

    I’m more concerned about the statement that later impacts could knock the Moon into an inclined orbit. I’d like to see his math on that … and then I’d like a physicist to check it. It would take a huge amount of energy to alter the orbit that much, and Jupiter and Saturn have certainly had their moons struck by more stuff than ours, yet the main satellites are on very equatorial orbits — Titan is 0.33°, and Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto are 0.04, 0.47, 0.21, and 0.51°, respectively. Our moon is 11x the largest of those.

    Comment by Stuart Robbins — April 2, 2014 @ 6:48 pm | Reply

  4. At 7:44 -7:56 of the podcast, you state that the Moon orbits 5.1° away from the equator. That should be 5.1° away from the ecliptic, which only accentuates your point about how it’s an inadequate theory.

    Comment by Derek Kinsolving — April 3, 2014 @ 5:36 pm | Reply

    • I will endeavor to remember to correct that in the next episode.

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — April 3, 2014 @ 9:39 pm | Reply

  5. That was a very good episode, I can vaguely remember reading about this theory in a school library. You need not worry about anger, I am rather more patient than that and have a (fictional) Apollo related project to keep me busy.

    Comment by Graham — April 4, 2014 @ 1:18 pm | Reply

    • 🙂

      Comment by Stuart Robbins — April 5, 2014 @ 10:13 am | Reply

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