Have you ever wondered what it would be like to stand on the moon and look back at the Earth? Sure, you’ve probably seen images taken by spacecraft during moon orbits and landings. But photos and videos taken from spacecraft don’t tell the whole story.
In this post, I’m going to fill you in. I think you’ll be surprised!
Crazy Fact 1: You might never see the Earth!
As we saw in an earlier post, How long is a day on the moon? You might be surprised! our moon is locked in tidal orbit around the Earth. Therefore, it shows only one side to the Earth (all the time). We call this the “front side” and it looks very familiar to us. No one knew what the “back side” looked like until 1959, when a Soviet spacecraft went there and sent back photos.
Now I want you to imagine that you’re standing on the “back side” of the moon. No one one on Earth can see you, so you can’t see Earth either. You wouldn’t even know the Earth existed!
Here’s a series of rough diagrams that explain it. Follow the arrows as the observer orbits the Earth.
Crazy Fact 2: You might always see the Earth
If you were standing on the “front side” of the moon, the Earth would always be visible.
Crazy Fact 3: If you saw the Earth, it would always be in the same spot in the sky (unless YOU moved). Moreover, it would have phases, just like the moon!
Here’s a nice YouTube video showing what it would be like to view the Earth from the Moon over the course of a month.
Pretty cool, huh?
The diagrams in this post don’t show where the sun is located with respect to the Earth/Moon system.
See if you can figure it out. The sun is in the same place in all the diagrams.
Is it above, below, to the right, or to the left?
To help you decide, go get a flashlight and a round object, like an orange or a baseball.
Turn off the lights and shine the flashlight at the object. What happens?