The Sun's Path at Different Lunar Latitudes
On both the Earth and the Moon, the apparent path of the Sun in the sky during the day depends on the observer's latitude. At most latitudes, the Sun rises above the eastern horizon in the morning, arcs through the sky toward a peak altitude at local noon, then sinks below the western horizon in the evening, the only difference being the steepness of the arc. The Sun's apparent motion at the poles is markedly different, particularly on the Moon, which is tilted only 1.5° relative to the Sun.
This visualization compares Sun views from four latitudes on the Moon over the course of a lunar day. The two views in the upper half of the frame are from Apollo landing sites. The lower left shows a latitude much higher than any Apollo landing, while the lower right is the view from the South Pole, where rather than rising and setting, the Sun travels in a complete circle, skimming low over the horizon. The yellow arrow points toward the Sun, locating it even when it's hidden below the horizon or outside the image frame. The sidebar shows the direction of the Sun's rays in a view from Earth, as well as the elapsed time in Earth days.
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NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio
MissionsThis visualization is related to the following missions:
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Datasets used in this visualization
LRO DEM (Digital Elevation Map)ID: 653Collected with LOLA
DE421 (JPL DE421)ID: 752Ephemeris NASA/JPL
LRO/SELENE SLDEM2015 (DIgital Elevation Model)ID: 948Model Collected with LOLA/TC
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter LROC WAC Color Mosaic (Natural Color Hapke Normalized WAC Mosaic)ID: 1015Mosaic Collected with LRO Camera Arizona State University
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