This is very cool: it’s a visualization of the Moon’s changing phases and libration throughout the year, made by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Visualization Studio. They’ve done these several times in the past and this is the latest one for the upcoming year 2015.
For accuracy you just can’t beat it: the global terrain map you see in the rendering was made with actual images and measurements of the lunar surface obtained by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s LROC camera and laser altimeter. It’s the most detailed video of the Moon’s surface available!
So you know about phases, but why is the Moon rocking back and forth like that? That’s due to the libration I mentioned –read more below:
According to a GSFC description:
The Moon always keeps the same face to us, but not exactly the same face. Because of the tilt and shape of its orbit, we see the Moon from slightly different angles over the course of a month. When a month is compressed into 24 seconds, as it is in this animation, our changing view of the Moon makes it look like it’s wobbling. This wobble is called libration.
The word comes from the Latin for ...