Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Spies Movement of Shadows Near the Moon’s South Pole

At the Moon’s North and South Poles, the Sun is never more than 1.5° above or below the horizon. The resulting pattern of daylight and shadows is unlike anywhere else on the Moon — or the Earth. After zooming in on a small lunar highland area near the South Pole, this visualization recreates the illumination conditions there over a period of two lunar days, equal to two months on Earth.

This close to the pole, the Sun doesn’t rise and set. Instead, as the Moon rotates on its axis, the Sun skims the horizon, traveling a full 360 degrees around the terrain. Mountains as far as 75 miles (120 kilometers) away cast shadows across the landscape. With the Sun at such a low angle, it can never reach the floors of some deep craters. Places the Sun never reaches are known as permanently shadowed regions. They are the locations of some of the coldest spots in the solar system, and because of that, they trap volatile chemicals, including water ice, that would immediately sublimate (transform directly from a solid to a gas) in the harsh, airless sunshine that falls in most other places on the Moon.

The Sun appears to travel in a circle at the Earth’s poles, too, but it also travels through a range of altitudes. From spring equinox to summer solstice, for example, the Sun is climbing higher in the sky, reaching an altitude of 23.4°. It only hugs the horizon for a few days around the equinoxes. At the Moon’s poles, the Sun is always near the horizon, and the shadows are perpetually long, sweeping across the surface with the changing solar azimuth.

39 Comments on "Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Spies Movement of Shadows Near the Moon’s South Pole"

  1. P.J.F. Blackwood-Davis | April 4, 2021 at 1:59 am | Reply

    So many interesting articles on this site,….about most things of interest on spaceship earth, the moon or in the eternal space through which we travel at such breathtaking speed!
    Easy to understand and well written…It’s a recommended and very appreciated app to have on any tablette or phone.
    Not for the pouting, identitarien, self-obsessed selfie crew however. Many thanks to all contributers and the editors from an old guy who’s still amazed at the beauty of our world and universe, soon to once again to ship out to become part of it…..eternal thanks!

  2. The 10th Man | April 4, 2021 at 7:12 am | Reply

    I love the clarity. All the other moon shots are in 8 dpi. Wonder why. Is there something they are not showing us? just sayin’.

  3. What clarity? They mention nothing new about shadows moving. Fire the idiot editor.

  4. $75 million dollar Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter 36 kilometers above the lunar surface and those are the best pictures it can produce? What a waste of money.

  5. Go to YouTube and check out Bruce sees all Channel. He has lots of amazing close-ups you can see structures and there’s a lot of activity. They are definitely hiding a lot. They have been doing so since we first our reconnaissance Orbiter around there before the Apollo missions.

    • Awesome channel. Bruce is great at circling and arrowing absolutely nothing. Good to know the cooks are alive and well.

  6. Watch the video Bob. How much more clarity do you want?

  7. I love it when a article talks about a wow something happened, read this exciting issue. So you read it and you think what in the hell is this about! It mentioned nothing of what the headline mentioned. Lol

  8. Boy, the literary somersaults involved in creating a deceptively defensible clickbait title… Simply amazing. And tasteless.

  9. My comment, rather question is P.J.F, please tell me the name of the app you are referring to. Thanks

  10. What a waste of time, energy , money , resources and intellectual ability that could be used to improve this planet, efficiently apply it’s resources and improve life on earth. No!! We have to implore some grandiose idea that we should ‘conquer’ something mankind has no place to be ,and that we can challenge the natural world assigned to us by leaving it. History had another such ideologists nutcase that thought he could do the same thing. His name was “NIMROD” . His folly left an appropriate label for those doing the same today.

  11. Michael Gregory | April 6, 2021 at 7:56 pm | Reply

    Poetics of Space an Arostocatic and somber prelude to the future..yet of paradox and fortunes unknown..the the more we want to know..the less is known rather applied to the simplicity of the start? A interlude..

  12. To the person that said the video had nothing to do with the title talked about read it again it definitely does hooked on phonics didn’t work for you

  13. Rick Bousfield | April 6, 2021 at 8:19 pm | Reply

    I bet it’s The Clangers with the soup dragon.

  14. Rick B. Thank You,excellent! That explains the “structures” ha ha!

  15. That was amazing!

  16. Why you call yourself 10th man

  17. I see everyone has a functioning ego , including myself, always looking for attention. What makes us think our moon is a natural natural satellite? It doesn’t behave like any other satellite except the ones we build and place in orbit. When it comes to our moon it seems all any of us know is what we have been told. Opinions based on observations rule the day.

  18. CODYdwayneBEASLEY | April 8, 2021 at 12:07 am | Reply

    Rynemills to they were just very deceiving in the way it was worded lol illiterate is correct or just someone who doesn’t put sentences together we’ll…… ppl like that are the reason you should have to pass a written text before you should be allowed to vote understanding the difference and all that sh*t

  19. Very interesting thanks. I appreciate the work that went into this. It also helps explain about our own poles and how strange it would be to live there.

  20. Hey, Flyguy,
    Why shouldn’t we.
    Can you imagine our naysayer ancestors in Africa telling others that they have no right to travel north?

  21. All you dolts need to try watching the video BEFORE commenting. I watched it. I saw shadows moving. Try it out, then you may say “Oh Wow”. This is not about alien conspiracy theories or anything other than what the Title described. Geez.

  22. I was under the impression the Moon doesn’t rotate on its axis … hence we only ever see one side of the moon and hence why the two sides are referred to as dark and light.

  23. Jonathan Bate | April 8, 2021 at 11:01 pm | Reply

    Some of the people who have made comments here have obviously not watched the video before posting. I think many people are more interested in “being heard” than in truly understanding what they are commentlng qbout. Have they even read or listened to the matter in question? Everybody’s 2 cents worth, so to speak, just for the sake of it. Truly disgusting.

  24. @patrick

    The moon rotates on its axis such that it’s “face” is always oriented towards earth. As it rotates around the earth it’s axial rotation keeps it so that we only see one side of the moon. That doesn’t mean the sun never shines on the far side, it simply means that we never get to see it. There are plenty of scientific websites that can model this visually.

    Keep in mind that video is a time lapse over 2 months time which is why you get moving shadows

  25. I’ll bet ur freaking Arabic. Not being racist, but u Fulkerson will do anything to have a successful scam

  26. I love all of the comments from the geniuses who don’t understand why they don’t use a high def camera in space heh.

  27. Last time I visited I found the area altogether boring. But there is plenty of water for growing bud.

  28. I can’t believe Bezos hasn’t bought this thing yet.

  29. Patrick, if the moon did not rotate then we would not see the same side of it at all times. It rotates at the same speed as it revolves. That is what keeps the same side pointed Earthbound.

  30. Sterling Korb | April 9, 2021 at 8:28 pm | Reply

    How do shadows make it all the way to the moon? Do meteors bring them?

  31. Damn who hurt y’all 😭

  32. Sickof trashnews | April 10, 2021 at 7:57 am | Reply

    The heck is thistles? This is nothing but trash. This is all old news, nothing here is new. This is all information any kid would learn in highschool. Prime example of click bait and lack of anything actually interesting. Trash writer should quit and look into getting into comedy with this joke of an article.

  33. Courtney Roberts | April 10, 2021 at 9:15 am | Reply

    I love how everyone complaining about quality forgets that the signal has to pass for miles in space and maybe there are limitations on how we do that. It has nothing to do with the actual sensor quality. Quite often a low resolution signal is sent first and if it’s worth the massive amount of time it takes for a larger resolution then that’ll happen. Unfortunately it takes so much time for things to happen that while you’re telling the spacecraft to do one thing it won’t have a chance to do the other so as always choices, choices.

  34. Well I’ll say you had an idea of what the headline was but was disappointed when it wasn’t what you thought it was. It says moving shadows and in the article it talked about shadows of the moon….. I really don’t know what else ur looking for that isn’t there as the headline suggests

  35. We must create an orbital platform around our moon before we can commit real resohurces and assets to Mars.
    Colonization of the moon, and mining the installing water to Hydrogen and oxygen converters are the only realistically feasible way to afford Mars.
    Just saying

  36. I think you’ll should join the flat- Earth movement. Flatards love to talk. About WHAT, i’ll
    never know…

  37. Humble nut case | April 11, 2021 at 3:19 am | Reply

    This makes no sense. Its an incredibly detailed and boring article(no offense. Interesting I’m sure to those in some relative profession) every article ever has a punchline or conclusion that ties back to the whole reason for clicking on it right?
    I think some mistake has been made or some big brother has edited this article for otherwise potentially too revealing, too educational, too scary, too ****ing captivating and view broadening material for what someone thinks the general public can handle. I mean, c’mon they’re basically reporting back the science of a fecul phenomenon we are all too damn familiar with when that sneaky little fart that seems ok cause your strolling through a heavily populated area with too many souls”for anyone to pin it to me”turns into(or out to be) the mist to follow your worst case of NEVER trust a fart!
    Gases to vapors suns n shadows b s.
    The part we all wanted to see and the reason you clicked on this article has been removed and a visit paid to the science team who discovered whatever it is that was edited out so don’t call it lame science. One day we will be made aware of the truth when its too late to save mankind or something smarter than we are wants recognition. Thank you science guys nd gals that brought us this. I hope to catch the original story or the next one before big brother steps in.

  38. Derrick allbritton | April 11, 2021 at 6:04 am | Reply

    It’s always nice to learn, an see good things, I have seen some things and it amazes me as to why with all the cameras and scops pointing that way that no one else has seen also, or have thay, a couple years ago in the Mojave Desert, Wonder Valley ca, I had a little supped up green lazer, iv read that distance to the moon a Lazer would have a wide spread an not much affect at that distance, sounds reasonable, any way I was playing with it an shot across the moon must a been 2 or 3am, left to right would be easy to west as it came off the right side hadn’t seen any thing till then all of a sudden it appeared when the Lazer hit it it jump to the side, looked just like the moon same size I though what the hell an shot it agane several times or tryed to but it doged it every time just moved aside it was faster than the speed of light as quick as I pressed the button it moved I call my girl friend who was working about 50 feet away from me to come look she watch a couple minutes an said that’s unreal an whent back to work To be ready for pick up in the morning I keep playing with it acuple times it thouck off an made a big circle from the ground looked like 5 or 6 feet out up there I’m sure it was miles it would come right back where it was so close it looked like it was touching the moon, it must of only been 5 or 10 minutes she hollord an said you better stop that that befor it shoots back, I’m looking at it setting there an figured ya it would fry my ass don’t think it would be a light Lazer, if it did, so I said your right gess I’ll give you a hand so you make you deadline, an put the Lazer away. A couple nights later got my cell phone an was going to try recording it real quick, if it done it agene first click was just a flash the Lazer burned up things happen for A reason gess I wasn’t sopose to do agean. But I don’t look at the Moon the same as I use to, I have no scopes but it sure looks at times that copy of it is whats give it the shade as we see it an believe it’s the sun 😎 but I’m not so sure of that any more, an if that is the case man has been fooled a long time. If you can see how truman felt when he realized, his life was a movie set, your awareness just gets sharper, an it looks like the stage is getting ready for a new show. As for things on the other side I my self wouldn’t dought it for a minute. Iv seen more sh*t in past 15 years that’s beyane comperhichen not much fases me any more. This is the only thing I don’t have verafide yet so get your night vision or something on your scopes that see different from the norm, I think you will wake up.. iv never in my life seen people acting the way they do today, it’s like there in a trains an don’t know it. Look at what’s going on, an now one can do anything about it. Thies aren’t the people I grew up with, no matter what someone says there a geak to cut it down an one to back him up, won’t surprise me a bit if this comment isn’t here 5 mins tell me what that is. !!! Thanks for your time.

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