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Early on in Earth's history, it was noticeable that Luna was almost like "Earth's little sister," and ever since the discovery of the telescope they realized Luna wasn't like a regular rocky moon like other planets in the Solar System. This is Earth's realization of Luna:
Primates had fully evolved into humans about 70,000 years ago in Africa and migrated for hundreds of years. It is unknown who was the first human to actually see Luna, and it was visible in the night sky, but it looked different from OTL. Instead of the white-grey moon we see everyday, they see a small blue and green ball in the sky, that sometimes couldn't be visible at night unless the light was reflecting in the water. Many Asian and European astronomers thought Luna was another planet that harbored life like the Earth. But ancient Babylonian astronomers realized that it couldn't be a planet if it was rotating around the Earth every 28 days.
In the 2nd century BC, Seleucus of Seleucia theorized that tides were due to the attraction of the Moon, and that their height depends on the Moon's position relative to the Sun. He also predicted that if the Moon had water that humans could faintly see, the Moon's tides were probably affected, too. Since the Earth's gravity is stronger than Luna's, the water tides are stronger and higher than they should be. Before the invention of the telescope, the Moon was increasingly recognised as a sphere, though many believed that it was "perfectly smooth," some believing it had water and few believing it was just an illusion, possibly Earth's water reflecting on the Moon.
In 1609, Galileo Galilei drew one of the first telescopic drawings of the Moon in his book Sidereus Nuncius and noted that it was not smooth but had mountains and craters (though not as many in OTL; most major meteors that make up most of the craters burned up in the Lunar atmosphere,) and it did in fact have water and land. Telescopic mapping of the Moon followed: later in the 17th century, the efforts of Giovanni Battista Riccioli and Francesco Maria Grimaldi led to the system of naming of lunar features in use today, though many were renamed after the First Contact. The more exact 1834-6 Mappa Selenographica of Wilhelm Beer and Johann Heinrich Mädler, and their associated 1837 book Der Mond, the first trigonometrically accurate study of lunar features, included the heights of more than a thousand mountains, and introduced the study of the Moon at accuracies possible in earthly geography. Lunar craters, first noted by Galileo, were thought to be volcanic until the 1870s proposal of Richard Proctor that they were formed by meteor collisions. This view gained support in 1892 from the experimentation of geologist Grove Karl Gilbert, and from comparative studies from 1920 to the 1940s, leading to the development of lunar stratigraphy, which by the 1950s was becoming a new and growing branch of astrogeology.
First Direct Explorations
Exploration of the Moon was always an interest for Earth to explore the New World, but it had never been started until the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union. Once launchers had the necessary capabilities, these nations sent unmanned probes on both flyby and impact missions. Spacecraft from the Soviet Union's Luna program were the first to send three unnamed, failed missions in 1958, all which resulted in landing in the Moon's water. Assuming this was sure to happen to manned missions as well, they stuck to man-made objects instead. The first man-made object to escape Earth's gravity and pass near the Moon was Luna 1; the first man-made object to impact the lunar surface was Luna 2 which was destroyed on impact, and the first photographs of the far side of the Moon were made by Luna 3, all in 1959.
Then came the Apollo program, the United States spaceflight effort which landed the first humans on Luna. It was first conceived during the Eisenhower administration and conducted by NASA, Apollo began in earnest after President John F. Kennedy 1961 address to Congress declaring his belief in a national goal of "landing a man on the Moon" by the end of the decade and "possibly meeting with new forms of life" in the Space Race.
After learning about the four consecutive probe failures, NASA decided not to try to land on the Moon yet. Instead their first goal was for astronauts to remain in Lunar orbit, noting everything they see. This goal was accomplished on August 9th, 1965, and they took various pictures of the water on Luna and the land. There was even evidence of animals, but no intelligent life was seen from their altitude. Insistent on meeting with these forms of life, JFK decided it was time to try to send humans to the moon.
- Main article: Apollo 11 Landing
At the time, scientists predicted that intelligent life forms like humans was unlikely to exist on Luna, and if this was true colonization of Luna could be less complicated than if an intelligent species had actually existed. It was until Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had discovered an entire city in the distance.