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Motion And Phases of Moon

June 15, 2011

While people are enjoying today one of the longest lasting lunar eclipse since 2000 (about 100 minutes long), let’s watch this beautiful video created by folks at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (see below) using data collected by Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). In the video you can see various phases and movement of moon during the course of one year; one month of movement has been compressed into 12 seconds. As we know, we are able to see only one face of the moon from earth (moon and earth are phase-locked– rotation time of moon is same as it’s revolution time around the earth- about 27 days), in the video it is clearly evident that only one side is visible to us. Since we get to see the moon from different angles owing to it’s tilt and elliptical shape of the orbit, in the video it appears to us as if moon is wobbling. In technical terms we call that wobbling as “liberation”. Because of liberation, we are able to see little bit more than half of the moon’s surface, close to 60%. Due to elliptical orbit, moon also appears to rock back and forth from us (perigee- nearest position, apogee- farthest position). You can also observe different phases of moon such as new moon and full moon and their variations in different months. Enjoy the video, I will be uploading some cool videos or pictures from today’s lunar eclipse event later on.


Video/Image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Filed under: Science,Video

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