A moon is classified as a natural satellite that orbits a planet, dwarf planet or minor planet. Over 160 moons have been discovered orbiting the planets in the Solar System and many more have been found orbiting smaller planets. Many people believe that Earth’s Moon is the largest in the solar system, but it is actually the 5th largest moon. If you want to know which moon is the largest, keep reading to find out.
What is the largest moon in the Solar System?
The largest moon in the solar system is Ganymede, which is a natural satellite of Jupiter. It’s diameter is 5,268 km (3,273 mi), which makes it 8% larger than Mercury and three times larger than the Earth’s moon. Ganymede was discovered by Galileo in 1610 along with three other moons of Jupiter. It was named by astronomer Simon Marius after a character from Greek Mythology. This discovery was the first time that a moon was found orbiting a planet other than Earth and led to a greater acceptance of the heliocentric theory (Earth orbiting the sun).
Did you know?
If Ganymede were able to break free from the gravitational pull of Jupiter and orbit the sun in its own right it would be classified as a planet!
In 1996 during observations by the Hubble telescope it was found that Ganymede has a very thin atmosphere that contains oxygen.