Take 5 Minutes to See What the Moon Will Do During 2013

by Nancy Atkinson on November 20, 2012

This new video shows exactly how the Moon will look to us on Earth during the entire year of 2013. 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 or as it moves closer and farther away from Earth. But seeing the entire year compressed down to 5 minutes, we can see the changes in libration, and axis tilt — as well as the most noticeable changes, the Moon’s phases.

In this new video from Goddard’s Scientific Visualization Studio, each frame represents one hour. In addition, as an improvement from their previous Moon visualization , this also shows other relevant information, including Moon orbit position, subearth and subsolar points, distance from the Earth.

At the SVS website, there is more information, including a Dial-A-Moon, where you can put in a certain date and find out how the Moon will look on a specific day.

“Thanks to Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, we now have excellent terrain maps of the Moon that can tell us the elevation at any point on the surface,” said Ernie Wright, who put this new video together. “I use those maps to make the Moon sphere bumpy in all the right places. That allows the rendering software to realistically simulate all the shadows and the ragged terminator (the dividing line between day and night).”

And if you’d like to have a handy bring-along app to find out anywhere what they Moon will be doing, check out Universe Today’s Phases of the Moon app, – available on iPhone or Android.

Source: NASA


Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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