Mesmerizing Visualization of the Moon's Phases in 2013

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This mesmerizing animation, released by NASA, shows the phases of the Moon throughout the entirety of 2013, which are caused by the changing angle of the Sun as the Moon orbits the Earth. According to NASA, "Elevation measurements by the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA) aboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) make it possible to simulate shadows on the Moon's surface with unprecedented accuracy and detail."

Other graphics in the visualization show the Moon's orbit position, subsolar and subearth points, distance from the Earth, and more. You'll also see the Moon's libration. "Because of the tilt and shape of its orbit, we see the Moon from slightly different angles over the course of a month," the site for the visualization explains. "When a month is compressed into 24 seconds, as it is in this animation, our changing view of the Moon makes it look like it's wobbling. This wobble is called libration."

Each frame represents one hour; you can check out the visualization frame-by-frame—and enter specific dates or hours to see what the Moon looks like—here.

Peaceful, right?

And now, something decidedly not peaceful (thought definitely still cool): This video of two huge eruptions on the Sun, which occurred on November 16 within 4 hours of each other.

Thankfully, those flares weren't directed toward Earth.

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November 21, 2012 - 5:00am
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