earthrise.001

Syzygy – the coolest gif ever created

The Moon crossing the sunlit face of the Earth
[Via kottke.org]

This is just flat-out incredible… NASA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite captured a series of photos of the Moon as it moved between it and the Earth.

Earth Moon Anim

The image shows the “dark side” of the Moon, which we can’t see from Earth because it’s always pointed away from us.

The lunar far side lacks the large, dark, basaltic plains, or maria, that are so prominent on the Earth-facing side. The largest far side features are Mare Moscoviense in the upper left and Tsiolkovskiy crater in the lower left. A thin sliver of shadowed area of moon is visible on its right side.

“It is surprising how much brighter Earth is than the moon,” said Adam Szabo, DSCOVR project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “Our planet is a truly brilliant object in dark space compared to the lunar surface.”

I don’t know why, but this image gives me chills up my spine! Is anyone else freaking out about this?

[More]

Syzygy is the straight-line alignment of three bodies in the Solar system. 

The Observatory sits at a Lagrange point between the Earth and the Sun, so the Sun sits at our back from the perspective of this gif. Thus when the Moon sits in the center of the Earth we will have an alignment if the Earth, Moon and Sun.

And the Observatory will always show a fully illuminated Earth whenever it looks back. 

I think this may be as iconic an animation as the Earthrise is for a photo.

Image: NASA / Bill Anders