Tides are raised in the earth's solid crust and atmosphere as well as in the oceans. Every body in the universe has some tidal effect, however small, on every other body. This effect is directly proportional to the mass of the body causing the tide but inversely proportional to the cube of the distance between the bodies. The earth's nearby moon is about 2.17 times as effective as the more massive sun in raising tides on the earth, even though the sun exerts a much greater total force on the earth than does the moon. Thus, the moon's proximity explains its dominant role in creating tides.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.