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# High tides and the Moon

Tue 26 Apr, 2005 08:52 am
I understand why high tides would be influenced by the gravitational effect of the Moon overhead. But why is there also a high tide on the side of the Earth opposite the Moon? Doesn't it seem that the Moon should drag the oceans into kind of an egg shape, with the highest point directly under the Moon, and the lowest point furthest away from the Moon?
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raprap

1
Tue 26 Apr, 2005 04:33 pm
From Moon Tides

Quote:
Why does the Moon produce TWO water tides on the Earth and not just one?

"It is intuitively easy to understand why the gravitational pull of the Moon should produce a water tide on the Earth in the part of the ocean closest to the moon along the line connecting the center of the Moon with the center of the Earth. But in fact not one but TWO water tides are produced under which the Earth rotates every day to produce about two high tides and two low tides every day. How come?

It is not the gravitational force that is doing it, but the change in the gravitational force across the body of the Earth. If you were to plot the pattern of the Moon's 'tidal' gravitational force added to the Earth's own gravitational force, at the Earth's surface, you would be able to resolve the force vectors at different latitudes and longitudes into a radial component directed towards the Earth's center, and a component tangential to the Earth's surface. On the side nearest the moon, the 'differential' gravitational force is directed toward the Moon showing that for particles on the Earth's surface, they are being tugged slightly towards the Moon because the force of the Moon is slightly stronger at the Earth's surface than at the Earth's center which is an additional 6300 kilometers from the Moon. On the far side of the Earth, the Moon is tugging on the center of the Earth slightly stronger than it is on the far surface, so the resultant force vector is directed away from the Earth's center.

The net result of this is that the Earth gets deformed into a slightly squashed, ellipsoidal shape due to these tidal forces. This happens because if we resolve the tidal forces at each point on the Earth into a local vertical and horizontal component, the horizontal components are not zero, and are directed towards the two points along the line connecting the Earth and the Moon's centers. These horizontal forces cause rock and water to feel a gravitational force which results in the flow of rock and water into the 'tidal bulges'. There will be exactly two of these bulges. At exactly the positions of the tidal bulges where the Moon is at the zenith and at the nadir positions, there are no horizontal tidal forces and the flow stops. The water gets piled up, and the only effect is to slightly lower the weight of the water along the vertical direction.

Another way of thinking about this is that the gravitational force of the Moon causes the Earth to accelerate slightly towards the Moon causing the water to get pulled towards the Moon faster than the solid rock on the side nearest the Moon. On the far side, the solid Earth 'leaves behind' some of the water which is not as strongly accelerated towards the Moon as the Earth is. This produces the bulge on the 'back side' of the Earth."- Dr. Odenwald's ASK THE ASTRONOMER

Rap
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Equus

1
Fri 29 Apr, 2005 03:38 pm
Thanks. I think. I sorta almost understood that.
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