Ever wonder what lurks on the dark side of the moon? Now you can see it like never before. The hemisphere of the moon that always faces away from Earth was largely uncharted until 1959, when a Soviet space probe photographed it. Now NASA has provided a whole new view of the moon’s far side, via a computer-generated video that shows the phases of the moon as seen from the side facing away from Earth.

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The video, made using mapping data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows two views of the moon: one telescopic, with the Earth looming in the background; and the other using a wide angle that makes the Earth looks distant and small.

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[youtube =http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdkMHkF7BaA]

“Just like the near side, the far side goes through a complete cycle of phases,” NASA explains. “But the terrain of the far side is quite different. It lacks the large dark spots, called maria, that make up the familiar Man in the Moon on the near side. Instead, craters of all sizes crowd together over the entire far side.

“The far side is also home to one of the largest and oldest impact features in the solar system, the South Pole-Aitken basin, visible here as a slightly darker bruise covering the bottom third of the disk.”


Image via NASA Goddard Space Center and kendo26, Flickr Creative Commons.