Lunar libration and animation

Galileo Galilei’s observations – via telescope, natch – of changing shadows on the lunar surface, and his conclusion that this indicated mountains and valleys there, proved instrumental in over-turning the belief, of the medieval followers of Aristotle, in the perfection of the heavens. Scientists continue to look at the moon, and recent radar images show just how mountainous the lunar surface is – especially the south polar region. The following series of NASA animations are based on that radar imagery. First an animation of the view of a virtual landing on the rim of the Shackleton Crater.
This animation shows the libration of the moon as it orbits the Earth – as also observed by Galileo – and the area of the moon mapped by that radar imagery.

A short flyover of the moon’s south pole region ending in the vicinity of Shackleton Crater.

And, getting back to those changing shadows, a simulation of the amount of solar illumination in the south polar region of moon over a solar day.

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  • CYNIC

    Shame this hasn’t had a comment.

    We are all far too insular, micro-anlaysing what the Chuckle Brothers had for Breakfast this morning and the potential impact on Government policy on bog drainage in Tyrone.

    Looking at these helps put it all in perspective….or as PapaDoc might say ‘lift up thine eyes to the heavens’

  • Dewi

    Libration ? as in The Moon National Libration Army?

    No, it like bounces – fascinating. We can see 59% of the moon’s surface from Cardiff not 50%.

    I hate getting interested in this – It’s enough to drive you to do Shilliday’s survey.

  • cynic

    Reading some of the other threads here makes me think of Monty Python’s Galaxy Song

    Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
    And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
    That’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
    A sun that is the source of all our power.
    The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
    Are moving at a million miles a day
    In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
    Of the galaxy we call the ‘Milky Way’.

    Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
    It’s a hundred thousand light years side to side.
    It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
    But out by us, it’s just three thousand light years wide.
    We’re thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
    We go ’round every two hundred million years,
    And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
    In this amazing and expanding universe.

    The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
    In all of the directions it can whizz
    As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
    Twelve million miles a minute, and that’s the fastest speed there is.
    So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure,
    How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
    And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space,
    ‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth.

  • Wilde Rover

    “Shame this hasn’t had a comment.”

    Yes. These threads always make a pleasant change from the incessant navel gazing.

    Pete, any chance of a thread on rising temperatures in our neighbouring planets, and if it has anything to do with Martian SUVs?

    Or why the Mayans’ celestial calendar only has four years left?

    If nothing else, it might make for unusual bedfellows in the comments section.

  • joeCanuck

    why the Mayans’ celestial calendar only has four years left?

    Heaven forbid a thread on that WR. We already have a very few crazies here on Slugger – do you want to be swamped? It would be like the Night of the Living Dead.
    I propose postponing that debate until after Christmas 2012.

  • Wilde Rover

    “We already have a very few crazies here on Slugger – do you want to be swamped?”

    Ah, but Joe, you are forgetting the perverse pleasure I would have at seeing “sworn enemies” having to agree with each other, and defending each others positions, against the crazies.