NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Far side of the moon. Animation showing a time-lapse wide-angle view of the phases of the far side of the Moon, with the Earth rotating behind it. The Earth rotates on its own axis in 24 hours. The Moon orbits the spinning Earth in approximately 27.3 days, but because the Moon rotates upon its own axis once during the same period, it always presents the same side to the Earth. As the Moon orbits the Earth, the area of its surface lit by the Sun changes, resulting in the lunar phases. The animation was created using data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
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