There’s an abandoned McDonalds in California that’s stuffed with 48,000 pounds of 70mm tape. These tapes contain never-before-seen ultra-high-res photographs of the moon shot by the Lunar Orbiter project 40 years ago. Rather than ship the film back to Earth, scientists decided to scan them on the spaceship, beam them back losslessly, and then record the data onto magnetic tape. Not wanting to reveal the precision of its spy satellites, the US government decided to mark the images as classified.
Since November 2011 I’d been thinking about an astrophotography project: take a photo of the moon each day from full moon to full moon, then combine it into a seamless movie that looks as if someone had moved the sun around the moon for one minute. I found similar videos, but most were simulations done in software, or photographic ones that weren’t very smooth. Seemed simple enough, mostly because I didn’t see the complications that would come along with this project caused by… physics.
My plan involved setting the same exposure each night starting with the full moon, and let the moon’s dark side gradually move across its face while the lit side stayed about the same brightness. Adjust the photos’ angles to match each other, throw all of them into Final Cut Pro X and add cross dissolve transitions between them, and I’d get a smooth movie showing every phase of the moon.
Between 1969 and 1972, NASA left 12 Hasselblad cameras on the moon to make room for moon rocks. One camera that wasn’t left there was a 16mm camera called the “Data Acquisition Camera” used during the Apollo 14 mission in 1971. It’s now in the center of a legal dispute between the US government and astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth person to set foot on the moon. Mitchell claims that NASA allowed him to keep the camera as a souvenir after the mission, while NASA says that no evidence of this transfer ever took place. The camera was slated to be auctioned for an estimated $60,000-$80,000, but now NASA is suing Mitchell to get the camera back. The lawsuit states,
All equipment and property used during NASA operations remains the property of NASA unless explicitly released or transferred to another party.
Looks like those Hasselblads on the moon aren’t free for the taking after all. Shucks.
(via Reuters via Space)
Photographer Elias Politis created this beautiful image showing the June 15 lunar eclipse over the Acropolis in Athens, Greece by shooting a time-lapse video and then combining the stills into a single frame.
If you’ve been thinking of trying your hand at lunar photography, tomorrow night might present the perfect opportunity to do so. It’s when the Moon will be the closest it has been to the Earth in 18 years, making it 14% larger and 30% brighter than when the full Moon is furthest away. Miss this opportunity, and you won’t see a Moon like this until about 2029 — who knows what we’ll be shooting with by then!
Super Full Moon (via Harry Lim Photography’s Blog)
Image credit: Moon and trees by jpstanley
Last night there was a total lunar eclipse that just so happened to coincide with the Winter solstice. If you missed the eclipse in person, University of Floria professor and photographer William Castleman created this beautiful time-lapse video with photographs he captured from Gainesville, Florida.
(via Laughing Squid)