An incredible image was captured that shows the entire dark side of the Moon as well as Earth in the distance. Since we can’t see the dark side of the Moon from here on Earth, this is one spectacular photo to say the least.
The image was captured on February 3rd by a team of radio amateurs who were using the Chinese Longjiang-2 satellite. Once they took the picture, they downloaded it with the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope which is located in the Netherlands. The team, which is led by Harbin Institute of Technology, sent twin micro-satellites into space last spring along with China’s Queqiao satellite.
After a quiet period in order to prevent interfering with the Chang’e 4 Lunar landing, the satellite started up again on January 13th. Then on February 3rd, the team sent a command to start taking pictures and that’s when they noticed that Earth, as well as the entire dark side of the moon, were seen together.
In a blog post, astronomer Cees Bassa wrote, “The first image from this time-lapse was downloaded with the Dwingeloo telescope on February 4, 2019. For the first time, the entire Moon and Earth are in view.” In previous photos, they were able to get images of Earth but only a portion of the moon, that’s why this photograph of the both of them is so stunning.
The team explained that it’s an exhausting and very carefully planned procedure to set up the shots and receive the data from them. But it’s definitely worth it when they capture a picture like the one they took on February 3rd.
It’s only been in the past several decades that humans have seen for the first time the dark side of the Moon. Since it always faces away from Earth, nobody has seen it except for a very lucky few. In fact, it was only in 1959 that the Soviet Luna 3 spacecraft took the first pictures of the far side of the Moon. And it took another nine years, in 1968, before astronauts on the Apollo 8 spacecraft became the first ever humans to see its far side when they were orbiting our Moon. Then just this year, on January 2, 2019, China’s Chang’e 4 became the first spacecraft to touch down on the lunar’s far side.