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June 16, 2011 / Dr. Toad

Mesmerizing Moon

One year of the Moon in 2.5 minutes, by Universe Today Videos.

edit: included the link to Universe Today.


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  1. Gwen / Jun 16 2011 7:29 pm

    I want cantaloupes. Thirteen cantaloupes, one after the other, and they should be round and very, very quiet.

  2. Michael / Jun 16 2011 8:12 pm

    That’s a good movie. Thanks very much.

    I was surprised by the apparent rocking motion of the moon. I’d never noticed that before. Why does it appear that way? Is it just camera angles, or something else?

    • Holms / Jun 17 2011 6:25 am

      This is called ‘precession’. The usual analogy is to imagine a spinning top – while it spins about the rotational axis, the axis itself is undergoing rotation.

      Just about every body in orbit around anything is undergoing at least one form of precession (there are multiple); hence the wobble in the facing of the moon.

      @ AKron (below):
      Chances are this is actually a compilation of detailed photographs, taken each night at the same hour from the same location. I doubt it is computer generated, aside from the video editing required to put a series of photos together in video form.

      • Dr. Toad / Jun 17 2011 8:45 am

        Thanks, @Holmes!
        I’m just going to copy most of the text from Universe Today about this:

        … 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 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.

      • Michael / Jun 24 2011 5:59 am

        Thanks for taking the time to explain precession. I can visualise what is happening now.

  3. AKron / Jun 16 2011 9:44 pm

    How did they do that? Wait,. Animation. OK, I get it. Still it’s amazing. I shared it with friends.

  4. Bodach / Jun 17 2011 8:54 am

    Oh, way cool! Thanks for answering my question about precession before I asked it.

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