The Moon's Rotation

  • Released Friday, October 6, 2017
  • Updated Wednesday, January 22, 2020 at 3:56PM
  • ID: 4709

An enduring myth about the Moon is that it doesn't rotate. While it's true that the Moon keeps the same face to us, this only happens because the Moon rotates at the same rate as its orbital motion, a special case of tidal locking called synchronous rotation. The animation shows both the orbit and the rotation of the Moon. The yellow circle with the arrow and radial line have been added to make the rotation more apparent. The arrow indicates the direction of rotation. The radial line points to the center of the visible disk of the Moon at 0°N 0°E.


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio


This visualization can be found in the following series:

Datasets used in this visualization

DE421 (A.K.A. JPL DE421)

Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

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