renderings of the Earth and Moon

The following series of animations were produced using image-mapped spheres for the Erth and Moon, with the Earth fixed at the origin, and the Moon rotating (i.e. orbiting) about the origin. The spheres' rotation rates, and that of the Moon in its orbit about the Earth, are in correct scale. However, the sizes and separations of the bodies are not. Also, the contrast of the features on the Moon's surface has been increased to aid their visibility.

For the three different animations, only the location and view-point of the camera have been changed- the same POV-Ray code was used to describe the motions of the bodies. Also, both bodies have been rendered without casting shadows, and there has been no attempt to model orbital or axial inclinations. An attempt at modelling (in very simple terms) the effect of both earthlight and moonlight has been made.

The visual impact of these animations is somewhat improved by rendering at large image sizes, and using many more frames than were used here. However, this would produce even larger video files, so less-than-ideal frame sizes and numbers were used in order to keep the file sizes fairly reasonable.


Lunar rotation : view from north of the Earth's equator, covering one lunar orbit of the Earth

high-quality .avi (1,336k) morot1.avi ZIP file (916k)

medium-quality .avi (987k) morot1a.avi ZIP file (544k)

In this animation (click on one of the links to download the avi or ZIP file), one sees an entire lunar orbit from a point sunward of the Moon, and north of the Earth's equator. The main points of interest are (i) that the Moon is in synchronous orbit, and keeps the same face pointing towards the Earth, and (ii) that all areas of the Moon are in full sunlight at some stage during the lunar cycle. The term "dark side of the Moon" is indeed somewhat inaccurate if taken literally.


Lunar phases 1 : view from above Earth's north pole, covering one lunar cycle

high-quality .avi (827k) moph1.avi ZIP file (456k)

medium-quality .avi (671k) moph1a.avi ZIP file (323k)

A view from well above the orbital plane of the Moon. Again, note the synchronous rotation of the Moon. Also faintly visible are the effects of earthshine and moonshine upon the Moon and Earth, respectively.



Lunar phase 2 : view from the Earth, covering one lunar cycle

high-quality .avi (1,120k) moph2.avi ZIP file (855k)

medium-quality .avi (746k) moph2a.avi ZIP file (559k)

The camera was placed at the origin (i.e. the Earth's centre), with the earth object commented-out of the POV-Ray scene. The camera was rotated to follow the motion of the Moon. This gives essentially the view that would be obtained from a vantage point on the Earth's surface. Nothing new, really, but it shows that the code reproduces the correct behaviour quite well. No attempt at modelling libration, etc.