It’s hard to get a handle on just how big some land masses are – but while we know the land down under was big, we were still surprised to find out that Australia is wider than the moon! Of course, they’re not the same shape, so that makes a difference in terms of their size.
Australia is Wider than the Moon – With a Caveat
When discussing Australia’s vastness, people often mention its sweeping deserts, extensive coastline, and large metropolises. But a fact that frequently catches many off guard is that, in terms of width, Australia is wider than the moon.
The moon’s diameter measures about 3,474 kilometers. It might seem massive when you gaze up on a clear night, especially considering it’s over 384,400 kilometers away from Earth. But in terms of sheer size, it’s modest compared to some of the celestial bodies in our vast universe.
Australia’s Impressive Span
Stretching from its westernmost point of Steep Point in Western Australia to its easternmost tip at Cape Byron in New South Wales, Australia boasts a width of approximately 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles). This makes Australia over 500 kilometers wider than the moon. It’s an astonishing fact, given that the moon appears so dominant in our night sky.
Drawing from NASA’s data, the moon’s equatorial diameter measures at 3,476 km (2,159 miles). But this comparison demands further nuance.
The moon’s form is spherical, making it a three-dimensional entity. Australia, while vast, exists more like a two-dimensional plane on the surface of the Earth. This distinction is crucial. While Australia’s width might surpass that of the moon, the moon’s total surface area, encompassing 37.94 million square kilometers (14.65 million square miles), vastly exceeds Australia’s land area.
Perception vs. Reality
One might wonder, if Australia is wider than the moon, why does the moon appear so large in our sky? The answer lies in perception. The moon orbits Earth at a relatively close distance, making it appear larger to us. Additionally, phenomena like the “moon illusion,” where the moon appears larger near the horizon than when higher in the sky, can further skew our perceptions.
On the other hand, it’s challenging for our minds to grasp the true expanse of Australia. Most people experience countries piece by piece, city by city, or via maps that sometimes distort scale due to their projection. Thus, the full breadth of Australia’s landscape is not always immediately evident.