Because the Moon's mass is a considerable fraction of that of the Earth (about 1:81), the two bodies can be regarded as a double planet system, rather than as a planet with a satellite. The plane of the Moon's orbit around the Earth lies close to the plane of the Earth's orbit around the Sun (the ecliptic), rather than in the plane perpendicular to the axis of rotation of the Earth (the equator) as is usually the case with planetary satellites. The mass of the Moon is sufficiently large, and it is sufficiently close, to raise tides in the matter of the Earth. In particular, the water of the oceans bulges out towards the Moon. There is a roughly opposing bulge on the other side of the Earth that is caused by the centrifugal force of the Earth rotating about the Earth–Moon barycenter. The average tidal bulge is sychronized with the Moon's orbit, and the Earth rotates under this tidal bulge in just over a day. However, the rotation drags the position of the tidal bulge ahead of the position directly under the Moon. As a consequence, there exists a substantial amount of mass in the bulge that is offset from the line through the centers of the Earth and Moon. Because of this offset, a portion of the gravitational pull between Earth's tidal bulges and the Moon is perpendicular to the Earth–Moon line, i.e. there exists a torque between the Earth and the Moon. This boosts the Moon in its orbit, and decelerates the rotation of the Earth. As a result of this process, the mean solar day, which is nominally 86400 seconds long, is actually getting longer when measured in SI seconds with stable atomic clocks. (The SI second, when adopted, was already a little shorter than the current value of the second of mean solar time.[9]) The small difference accumulates every day, which leads to an increasing difference between our clock time (Universal Time) on the one hand, and Atomic Time and Ephemeris Time on the other hand: see ?T. This makes it necessary to insert a leap second at occasional, irregular intervals. In addition to the effect of the ocean tide

, there is also a tidal acceleration due to flexing of the earth's crust, but this accounts for only about 4% of the total effect when expressed in terms of heat dissipation.[10] If other effects were ignored, tidal acceleration would continue until the rotational period of the Earth matched the orbital period of the Moon. At that time, the Moon would always be overhead of a single fixed place on Earth. Such a situation already exists in the Pluto–Charon system. However, the slowdown of the Earth's rotation is not occurring fast enough for the rotation to lengthen to a month before other effects make this irrelevant: About 2.1 billion years from now, the continual increase of the Sun's radiation will cause the Earth's oceans to vaporize[citation needed], removing the bulk of the tidal friction and acceleration. Even without this, the slowdown to a month-long day would still not have been completed by 4.5 billion years from now[citation needed] when the Sun will evolve into a red giant and likely destroy both the Earth and Moon. Tidal acceleration is one of the few examples in the dynamics of the Solar System of a so-called secular perturbation of an orbit, i.e. a perturbation that continuously increases with time and is not periodic. Up to a high order of approximation, mutual gravitational perturbations between major or minor planets only cause periodic variations in their orbits, that is, parameters oscillate between maximum and minimum values. The tidal effect gives rise to a quadratic term in the equations, which leads to unbounded growth. In the mathematical theories of the planetary orbits that form the basis of ephemerides, quadratic and higher order secular terms do occur, but these are mostly Taylor expansions of very long time periodic terms. The reason that tidal effects are different is that unlike distant gravitational perturbations, friction is an essential part of tidal acceleration, and leads to permanent loss of energy from the dynamic system in the form of heat. In other words, we do not have a Hamiltonian system here.