LPVT is a web app created with a thought of providing an accurate representation of the Moon as seen from Earth at a specified time in the near past or future. All the pictures are digital renderings based on the publicly available Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter albedo and altimetry data. Thanks to the accuracy of the satellite measurements, it's possible to generate photo-realistic images which simulate the distribution of shadows and lit up areas on the lunar surface and the orientation of the lunar disk as seen from our planet. This can prove useful in planning observations of several elusive lunar features, such as certain short-lived shadow arrangements or far-side regions occasionally visible at an oblique angle across the edge of the lunar disk.
In addition to the renderings, LPVT provides the following lunar ephemerides:
- Phase: Percentage of the lunar disk illuminated by the Sun, from 0 to 100.
- Distance: Measured in kilometers from the center of the Earth to the center to the Moon. Distance between surfaces depends on the altitude of the Moon above the horizon at a given time of observation and can be up to approximately 8100 kilometers shorter than the displayed value.
- Angular size: The apparent diameter of the Moon on the sky, based on and inversely proportional to the geocentric distance, measured in minutes and seconds of an arc.
- Sub-Earth: The selenocentric coordinates of the Earth, once again referring to the center of our planet. This information gives insight into libration, a phenomenon which lets us see slightly more than exactly half of the lunar surface. Due to the large size of the Earth as seen from our satellite, the exact value is slightly different as long as the Moon is not exactly at the observer's zenith, up to one degree in extreme cases (at perigee and near the horizon).
- Sub-Solar: Like above, but with respect to the center of the Sun.
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