One year of the moon in 2.5 minutes

Jun 15, 2011 By Nancy Atkinson

We don’t always have the time or ability to see the Moon every night of the year, but this video, from the Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, uses data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and compresses one month into 12 seconds and one year into 2.5 minutes. This is how the Moon will look to us on Earth during the entire year of 2011. While the Moon always keeps the same face to us, it’s not exactly the same face. Because of the tilt in its axis and shape of its orbit, we see the Moon from slightly different angles over the course of a month, and the year. Normally, we don’t see how the Moon “wobbles” in its orbit, but seeing the Moon’s year this quickly, we can see the changes in libration, and axis tilt — as well as the most noticeable changes, the Moon’s phases.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

This animation is the most accurate to date, showing shadows and other features on the Moon in incredible detail. This is thanks to the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) aboard LRO. The shadows are based on the global elevation map being developed from measurements by the LOLA, and the instrument has already taken more than 10 times as many elevation measurements as all previous missions combined.

If you want to know what the Moon looks like “right now” this page from the SVC is updated every hour showing the Moon’s geocentric phase, libration, position angle of the axis, and apparent diameter of the Moon. It also has images showing the different phases of the , too.

Celestial north is up in these images, corresponding to the view from the northern hemisphere. The descriptions of the print resolution stills also assume a northern hemisphere orientation. To adjust for southern hemisphere views, rotate the images 180 degrees, and substitute “north” for “south” in the descriptions.

Explore further: NASA craft set to beam home close-ups of Pluto

More information: svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003800/a003810/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Why is the harvest moon so big and orange?

Oct 01, 2010

Ever wonder why the moon sometimes looks so big and orange? Professor Emeritus John Percy of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics explains the mystery behind the harvest moon:

Send Your Name to the Moon Aboard LRO

May 01, 2008

NASA invites people of all ages to join the lunar exploration journey with an opportunity to send their names to the moon aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, spacecraft.

NASA tests moon orbiter components

Jan 12, 2008

U.S. engineers are testing the components of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to make sure it is ready for its mission to the moon.

Probing Question: Is the moon shrinking?

Dec 09, 2010

While everything else changes, itэs comforting to think that some things in the universe will always stay the same. The sun always rises and sets, the tides ebb and flow, and the moon hangs in the night ...

Looking at the volatile side of the Moon

Jun 01, 2011

Four decades after the first Moon landing, our only natural satellite remains a fascinating enigma. Specialists from Europe and the US have been looking at ESA’s proposed Lunar Lander mission to find ...

Recommended for you

NASA craft set to beam home close-ups of Pluto

14 hours ago

Nine years after leaving Earth, the New Horizons spacecraft is at last drawing close to Pluto and on Sunday was expected to start shooting photographs of the dwarf planet.

Elon Musk's SpaceX drops lawsuit against Air Force

Jan 25, 2015

A spacecraft company run by billionaire Elon Musk has dropped a lawsuit alleging the U.S. Air Force improperly awarded a contract to launch military satellites to a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed ...

NASA spacecraft almost to Pluto: Smile for the camera!

Jan 23, 2015

It's showtime for Pluto. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has traveled 3 billion miles and is nearing the end of its nine-year journey to Pluto. Sunday, it begins photographing the mysterious, unexplored, icy ...

Gullies on Vesta suggest past water-mobilized flows

Jan 23, 2015

(Phys.org)—Protoplanet Vesta, visited by NASA's Dawn spacecraft from 2011 to 2013, was once thought to be completely dry, incapable of retaining water because of the low temperatures and pressures at its ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.