Here’s a cool visualization showing the moon’s phase throughout the year 2013, at hourly intervals. When 2013 actually arrives, the image of the moon at the top will automatically change every hour to represent the phase of the real moon in real time. That’ll be neat.
Data from the Clementine moon mission of the 1990s, combined with images and topography measurements from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, were used to create this video. It also shows moon position in orbit, distance from the Earth, and a lot more. You’ll probably have to play this video several times to catch everything. To learn more about what’s being shown in this visualization, or to see what the moon will look like at any hour in 2013 (beginning in 2013), click here.
By the way, the video also shows lunar libration, and you might notice it if you watch the video carefully. Libration is an apparent rocking, tipping and tilting of the moon over the course of every month. It’s not a real motion of the moon (the moon isn’t really rocking, tipping and tilting), but just an apparent motion caused by the fact that we see the moon from a slightly different angle every day. Like all bodies in space, the moon has an orbit around its parent body (Earth) that’s shaped like an ellipse, like a circle someone sat down on. Also, the moon’s axis of rotation is tilted slightly with respect to the plane of its orbit. The result of the moon’s elliptical orbit and tilt is that – from our earthly perspective – we perceive rocking, tipping and tiling of lunar libration. Watch for it in this video.
Bottom line: Video showing moon phases, and more, for all of 2013 via data from NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission and the Clementine moon mission of the 1990s.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.