Is the lunar effect real? Ask anyone who works in the emergency room of a hospital, and they’ll probably tell you that things get a little loony during the full moon every month. Our calendar is built around this hunk of rock’s cycles spinning around the Earth, and its gravitational effects are responsible for the tides, so to many people, it follows that the moon could influence human behavior, too. Lunar theory may not be scientifically supported, but the moon’s ever-changing face has fascinated humans since the dawn of our species all the same, even today with all our distracting technology.
Maybe that’s why it’s so exciting to see technology celebrating the mysterious moon. NASA knows more about the moon than just about anyone, and its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has made a 3D map of its surface at 100-meter resolution and 98.2 percent coverage. That means lots of incredibly accurate topographic data. With this information, designers Oscar Lhedermitte and Kudu were able to create first-ever topographically accurate lunar globe, which functions as an educational object and decor in one.
MOON displays the current lunar phases in real time at 1/20 million scale and shows all the craters, ridges, and elevation features in three dimensions, inviting you to touch it and experience what the surface feels like with your own hands. A ring of LED lights revolves around the globe to illuminate the model in a direct reflection the current moon phase, recreating it as it’s seen from Earth; if you walk around to another side, you can view it from other angles, too, as if you’re floating in space.
The globe has three different modes. The first, manual mode, allows you to rotate the “sun” LED light ring yourself and set the lunar phase to whatever you like. So, if you think a sharp waxing crescent looks most dramatic in your space, you’ve got it. On the other hand, demo mode shows a complete monthly rotation of moon phases compressed down to 30 seconds. Finally, “live mode” lets you experience the actual lunar phase happening at any given moment. A full rotation takes approximately 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 2.80 seconds.
“Thanks to NASA, we have access to beautiful sets of space images, but most importantly, to incredibly accurate data,” say the creators of MOON. “Modern technology such as 3D printing allows us to create intricate objects from raw data. Traditional lunar globes are still using flat images (photographs or illustrations) mounted onto a sphere and do not take full advantage of the data. The data is available, the technology is there, so why not make a 21st century version of the lunar globe?”
“In order to create the lunar globe, Oscar contacted the team at the Institute of Planetary Research and they very kindly gave him access to a piece of their huge database. The data used are DTM (Digital Terrain Model) and are constructed from stereo images. Countless hours have been spent on the file in order to achieve the correct scale of terrain, make it spherical and compatible for a 3D print.[…] In order to achieve the accuracy needed to track the sun’s movement over long periods of time Alex and Peter designed, built, and coded a custom MOON computer. Its real-time clock and gearing system make sure it is perfectly in sync with the actual moon and sun’s positions.”
The desktop model measures about 14.5 inches tall and 13 inches between its globe and the LED light ring. It’s made of polyurethane resin, CNC-machined, and anodized aluminum powder-coated steel and an electronic board. Made in the UK, it’s now available for pre-order on the MOON website, where you can also purchase moon calendars, lunar samples, moon maps, and other globes.