Syfy Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Pow! ZOOM! To the Moon!

By Phil Plait

[I was going to wait to post this until next week, but with Neil Armstrong's death I've decided to put it up now. If he could risk his life open up the Moon as a world for all mankind, the least I can do is share it as much as I can.]

If you need a little extra dollop of awesome in your day, then try zooming in and flying over the surface of the Moon, care of astronomer Pete Lawrence's incredible mosaic of our nearest cosmic neighbor:

[You may need to refresh this page if you don't see the Moon picture directly above this sentence.]

Click the button on the lower right that makes the picture expand to fit the browser, then zoom in and out using the + and - buttons. Click and drag to fly around. Make vrooom vroom noises.

Make sure you zoom in all the way and then cruise over the terminator, the day/night line. Trust me.

This ridiculously cool image is composed of 166 separate sub-images taken over the course of just 45 minutes on August 10, 2012. He used a Celestron 14" with a video camera. Get this: each of the 166 sub-images is actually made up of 1000 separate video frames, which are stacked and processed to pick out the best bits of each one, resulting in a single high-quality frame. So he really took 166,000 images!

That's so cool. I love what digital cameras have done for astronomy.

Pete's images of the sky are amazing; check them out at, and you can keep up with him on Twitter.

He also sent me this shot he took in 2009 showing the Moon in three different phases; you must click it to see it full size. It's pretty impressive.

I should probably Photoshop a wolf in there.

Tip o' the lens cap to Will Gater.

Read more about: