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Q&A: Catching a Ball on the Moon

24 Mar 2014, 07:01 UTC
Q&A: Catching a Ball on the Moon
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Question: Your March 10 post about throwing a ball to the Moon made me wonder … what would it be like trying to catch a ball if you were on the Moon? — RS, Flagstaff, AZ
Answer: That’s a really interesting question. Let’s start out by defining some parameters. We’ll use a baseball, as I did in my March 10 post. We’ll assume it’s a pop fly, leaving the bat with a speed of 50 m/s (112 mph). That’s a reasonable MLB average home run. We’ll also assume the ball is hit upward at a 45° angle. According to the laws of projectile motion, that angle maximizes its range. The graphic above shows the comparative results.
The average pop fly in an MLB game will reach a height of 45 m (150 feet), and go a distance of 125 m (410 feet). Its hang time will be around 5 seconds. The outfielder will sprint to the expected impact point, allowing for factors like wind, altitude, batter stats, and expected hitting strategy. Most pop flies are caught. These guys are good. But they can see the ball. Move the game to the Moon, and everything changes.
The graphic shows the difference ...

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