Skygazing in the Solar System – what does it look like?

One thing I always wondered is how the sky looks when observed from another planet; and as a matter of fact, only in few cases we know how it does for real, even though simulations give us a fair idea. I am going to cover this topic in more technical details in future posts, since it’s quite important for worldbuilding and SF. For the moment, I will post here some images.


Let’s start with the Moon and the most prized of the views from there, the one of our planet. What we can see from our satellite is amazing, even though Earthrises  – like the one in this sets of pictures – would be a bit more complicated to watch, contrary to what the Japanese spacecraft Kaguya, which has taken it, might let us imagine.


This is because, in reality, the probe was in polar orbit around the Moon, not on the Moon itself. In general, an Earthrise cannot be viewed from the surface of the Moon itself, simply because one side of the Moon is locked facing the Earth and the other permanently away (the far side), so Earth stays fixed in the Moon’s sky. The exception would probably be standing on a place between the near and far side, as Emily Lakdawalla explained on her blog. “Now, imagine that you live at a point on the Moon that is on the border between the nearside and the farside. Because of this longitudinal nodding, you would actually see an Earthrise and an Earthset once a month, with the Earth making a loop around its average position in the sky. Resonant orbits make for neat stuff in the night sky.”

Even from a spacecraft, however, a moonshot is all but a simple stuff, as the technical descriptions from NASA of the Moon’s pictures proves. The most famous of them is, of course,  the one from Apollo 8 in 1968, but it was not the first.


On August 23, 1966, Lunar Orbiter 1 took the first photo of Earth as seen from lunar orbit. While a remarkable image at the time, the full resolution of the image was never retrieved from the data stored from the mission. In 2008, this earthrise image was restored by the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project at NASA Ames Research Center. They obtained the original data tapes from the mission (the last surviving set) and restored original FR-900 tape drives to operational condition using both 60s era parts and modern electronics.” (The Planetary Society)

Not many, however, beat the full movie by the Kaguya mentioned above, and that you can admire below. Happy watching!















  1. Aquileana

    Amazing… I had a doubt the other day and would like you ask you if you don´t mind….
    how many days apart are we from the Moon, or Mars…. Thanks for listening to me…
    Best wishes. Aquileana :star:

    1. Steph P. Bianchini (Post author)

      Hello, thanks for stopping by. Happy to help, but what do you exactly mean “how many days”? How long would take us to get there? Or how long is their day compared to ours? Thanks, let me know, and I’ll answer.

      1. Aquileana

        Hi Steph… I think my other attempt of reply wan´t posted…. I meant both somehow…
        I explain you my doubt and then maybe I will be clear… The other day I watched a video on Youtube called 10 reasons why we have not found aliens yet … It was all triggered by the Fermi paradox which asks… if the space is infinite then is a huge chance other types of life exist, why we have not come across them yet…
        Well one of the explanations pointed out to the fact that aliens might see Dinosaurs… It states that a far away planet could still see them due to the speed of light and the time it eventually it would take it to reach their eyes… The same applies when we look up to the sky and see a twinkle star which has already disappeared but we see it as if it was active…
        So I guess my answer would be if we -they- came back from the future or past when they arrived from the moon… assuming they reached the moon , ha….
        Love and best wishes. Aquileana 😀

        PS. this is the link to the video I made reference to

  2. Steph P. Bianchini (Post author)

    Hello, Aquileana – the Fermi Paradox is fascinating. For more on it, have a look at what I have written on this regard here:
    This might clarify some points you mentioned here.
    (thanks for the link)


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