A million miles from earth, the moon and earth east and west

The NASA DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory) EPIC camera occasionally captures amazing images of the earth and far side of the moon. The moon has an unnaturally smooth blurred appearance in the NASA images because it doesn’t stay still for the picture. The separate red, green, blue filtered exposures by the EPIC monochrome camera are out of alignment.

I have reprocessed EPIC images of lunar transits of the earth from July 2015 and 2016 so that the RGB color channels are aligned and sharpened for the region centered on the moon. The result is closer to what would be seen by an astronaut from the satellites location, the L1 neutral gravity point between the earth and the sun. This is about one million miles from earth. The image below links to a larger version.

Don't be surprised that the moon appears so dark compared to the earth. Measurements show that the albedo (average surface brightness) of the side of the moon that we see from the earth is only 40% that of the earth. The Apollo astronauts also commented on the dark grey appearance of the moons surface. The moon appears silvery bright from earth compared to a dark night sky. As these images show the earth is much brighter.  

Thanks to Charlie Emery from the UK for his helpful suggestions in processing the 2015 image of the western hemisphere two years ago. This time I found higher resolution images with both the eastern and wester hemisphere from 2015 and 2016. The moon from each image was extracted and separated in to red, green, and blue images. These were realigned into new images which were sharpened in Nebulosity then placed back in the original. The two transits of the moon with each hemisphere were then composed into a single image. I was inspired by a favorite world map from my childhood, showing the world as two orthographic hemispheric projections. 

Thanks to NASA for their archive of EPIC images.

Yes, the moon is dingy grey, but in my mind it’s always as described by
“another yellow moon has punched a hole in the darkness … shining like a new dime”, thanks to Tom Waits’ "Downtown Train" for words to match my mind's eye.

Content created: 2017-07-11




Submit comments or questions about this page.

By submitting a comment, you agree that: it may be included here in whole or part, attributed to you, and it's content is subject to the site wide Creative Commons licensing.

FB:David Duncan



Flickr:Jonas Weiser


Nice Shot

Flickr:Jill Clardy


Fantastic perspective; I had no idea you could access the NASA images!











Moon Phase