Our Constant Moon?

Most of us probably think of the Moon as our constant and reliable companion, always showing a familiar face. Popular lore has us always seeing the same face of the moon, the “bright side,” with the dark side forever hidden from earthbound viewers as the moon orbits in lock-step with the Earth’s rotation.

But as with much of science, the tricky little details reveal a more interesting picture. Here is a short animation sequence taken by Laurent Lavender in France that is comprised of full moon images captured every (lunar) month for two years, all compressed into 2 seconds of video.

This video is a fantastic articulation of the fact that the Moon’s orbit around Earth is not, in fact, a perfect circle, but rather an ellipse (with about 5% eccentricity) which travels closer and then farther away in turn and changing apparent size in the process.



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