Lunar South Pole Illumination with Earth and Sun

  • Released Friday, February 23, 2024
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This visualization shows the unusual motions of the Earth and Sun as viewed from a location near the South Pole of the Moon. The Sun glides around the horizon, never more than a few degrees above or below it, while the Earth bobs up and down, never veering far from 0° longitude. The Earth appears to be upside-down and rotating backwards. The perpetually low Sun angle produces extremely long shadows that rotate across the rugged lunar terrain.

The animation compresses six months into two and a half minutes. The periodic darkness of the terrain isn't always because the Sun is below the horizon. Sometimes, the Sun is directly in front of the viewer, and at those times, we're seeing the shadows cast by distant elevations.

From front to back, the prominent craters are Idel′son L, Amundsen (with the central peak), and Nobile (to the left). The mountain behind Nobile is the recently named Mons Mouton. The red dot is provided as a focal point and a horizon marker, helpful when the terrain is deeply shadowed.


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

Release date

This page was originally published on Friday, February 23, 2024.
This page was last updated on Friday, February 23, 2024 at 2:23 PM EST.


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