New lunar panorama: Chang’e 3 beams back best moon photos yet

The Chinese Chang’e 3 lander sent back a new series of high quality photos yesterday January 17 taken with its panoramic camera. They’re the clearest, sharpest I’ve come across since the mission began. What a satisfying picture they make.

Take a look at the individual photos; at the end is the final, albeit low resolution, stitched 360-degree panorama. I placed them in order as if you were taking in the view turning your head from left to right. Just click an image to enlarge it:

View #1 with the lander’s solar panels in the foreground. Credit:

View #2. As we shift our gaze to the right , the solar arrays and radio communications dish come into view. Credit:

View #3. Continuing to the right we see a crater and impact ejecta near the lunar horizon. Credit:

View #4 shows the wheel tracks of the Jade Rabbit or Yutu rover. Credit:

View #5. Our final frame focuses on the Yutu (Jade Rabbit) lunar rover. Credit:

All images stitched together to create a complete moon panorama. Credit:

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About astrobob

My name is Bob King and I work at the Duluth News Tribune in Duluth, Minn. as a photographer and photo editor. I'm also an amateur astronomer and have been keen on the sky since age 11. My modest credentials include membership in the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) where I'm a regular contributor, International Meteorite Collectors Assn. and Arrowhead Astronomical Society. I also teach community education astronomy classes at our local planetarium.

13 thoughts on “New lunar panorama: Chang’e 3 beams back best moon photos yet

  1. Just curious: what are the greenish-grey ‘shadows’ that run vertically through each of these pictures? They seem to be there in all the pictures, regardless of the direction of the photo (or the relative direction of the sun).

      • I think these images are photos taken off a monitor or video screen – that’s why the greenish bands are there. Hopefully the Chinese will release proper photos soon!!

      • Is it possible that this is where the many individual photos have been ‘stitched’ together? But that mean that the originals would have a rather odd aspect ratio.

        It just seems kind of weird. The shadows seem to be in exactly the same place to the background of the picture. They are not, seemingly at least, in the same place relative to the frame of the picture. For example, in your first two pictures, the shadows are in exactly the same place in the craters even though they are, apparently, different pictures taken at different angles. And the shadows are not parallel, but seem to radiate from somewhere behind the camera. In the full panorama photo, the middle shadow in the picture is the only that really looks truly vertical.

        Have a great day.
        Live ready!

        • Bob,
          You know if it were NASA, we could get an explanation. With the Chinese, I wouldn’t know where to start on making a phone call. I see the shadows subtly changing across the frame just the way you’d see it on Earth. When your gaze is more toward the sun, the shadows hide a bit more behind the rocks. As you shift your gaze across the view – even in the single photos – the shadows spread out.

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