In one of the answers to an entertaining question on Physics.SE about "simple check for the global shape of the earth", there is a link to this awesome demonstration of the libration of the moon:

Animation of the moons librations

You can see the date stamp at the top that goes from Apr. 3 2007 to Apr 30 2007.

If these are real, the moon should go through its phases during the month-long time-lapse photo session, but it doesn't.

Is this animation a real-life capture or generated?

  • 19
    I thought this site was for asking about the validity of notable claims, not arbitrary interesting questions. Did anyone claim that these were real photos? It does not seem so. Any physicist would have said the same thing you mentioned: there is no full moon every day. Why is this question not off-topic then?
    – Szabolcs
    Oct 23, 2018 at 15:53
  • 5
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it belongs on Astronomy
    – user22865
    Oct 23, 2018 at 18:48
  • To be clear, my question was, "Are these images of the moon's "libations" real?" Regardless of the full moon effect, "Images" may be obtained of the dark-side surface of a heavenly body. Did they use infrared? X-rays?—No, they faked it with a computer. That being said, this certainly may be "off topic," as I don't know that anyone else has wondered. But I bet some have.
    – Chowzen
    Oct 23, 2018 at 21:05
  • I think the edited title has made it worse. (1) The question of whether an image is "real" always makes us stumble - it is too vague (2) I avoid "Is it X or is it Y?" questions because they often are a false dichotomy (3) "capture"? What does that even mean?
    – Oddthinking
    Oct 23, 2018 at 22:12

1 Answer 1


This image is software generated, according to its Wikimedia page:

  • Own work, created with "Full Sky Observatory"
  • Source bitmap for projection from Nasa's Clementine Spacecraft

You can see some pixelization happening at the very bottom and top of the moon. Another dead giveaway is the fact that the moon in the image is full for the entire month, without any change in its shadows.

(This, of course, doesn't mean that moon librations aren't real. For a trusted source see NASA, which has a similar simulator.)

  • 1
    Thanks, +1! To be clear, I was asking if the photos (which now are shown to not be photos) were real, not if *librations" themselves were real. I'm a believer. :)
    – Chowzen
    Oct 23, 2018 at 6:18
  • 7
    @Bas: Sound waves? In vacuum? ;-)
    – DevSolar
    Oct 23, 2018 at 13:59
  • 2
    @DevSolar but maybe if it's not a moon... Oct 23, 2018 at 14:00
  • 2
    @Bas I've got a nice, bright flash on my phone's camera. :)
    – Chowzen
    Oct 23, 2018 at 14:24
  • 10
    @Chowzen Illuminate the moon: Obligatory xkcd :-) Oct 23, 2018 at 15:52

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