Stereo Moon Pictures by John C. Ballou

All images on this page are shown as "cross-eyed" pairs. To view the images in stereo, it is necessary to cross your eyes so that the image on the left goes into your right eye and vice versa. Some people find it easier to hold a finger or pencil between you and the screen, and move the pencil toward you and away from you until the two images "merge". At that point, you will see three images, and the center image will show the 3-D effect. If you wish to view using another method (anaglyph glasses, parallel viewing (like Magic Eye books)), click on the image, and another window will appear using a Java Applet that allows you to select other viewing methods.

Click on the images to start the Java applet that will display the image in the format you wish to use For information on how to see the images and use the applet click here. UPDATE: Crescent Moon Stereo Photo!!! Just in time for the anniversary of the first man to walk on the surface of the moon, here's
a stereo photo of the crescent moon, about 1/3 illuminated:

Astronomy is my second oldest interest, which began when I first looked through a telescope in a schoolyard in Redwood City, CA, seeing Jupiter with my own eyes. My dad and I bought a telescope with money I made from a paper route - a 4 1/4" reflector. We worked that telescope over until we were able to get some pretty good views of the sky. I used it to project the sun onto paper to view solar eclipses, to look at all the planets I could find, and develop an object catalog in my mind. Even now, I can look at the sky and locate many interesting objects without referring to a star chart. I now have a 12 1/2" dob, which is about the limit of what I want to deal with as far as transporting it to dark sky areas.

Late in 2003, I began taking stereo pictures using R/C aircraft. All of these photos are what are called "hyper" stereo pairs, because the spacing between the exposures is much larger than the distance between your eyes. Then, a friend at work told me about someone who had taken full moon pictures at sunset and sunrise, and was able to assemble a stereo pair based on the two exposures. When you think about it, the spacing should be roughly equal to the diameter of the earth, about 8,000 miles. However, this is only an angular spacing of about 2 degrees. Since the moon is so far away and the difference is distance from the center to the edge of the moon is very small with respect to the distance from the observer, the stereo effect will be minimal. I tried this approach on the night of October 9 and 10, 2003, with poor results.

There are other problems with this pair of images. First is the variation in brightness of different parts of the moon. This is partly due to the image taken in the early morning, when the moon being low in the sky caused this variation. In additon, the terminator (the line between illuminated parts of the moon and parts in shadow) has moved between the exposures, which causes the viewer's eyes to fight over what image is correct. Still, it shows a hint of what is possible...

After the disappointment of this result, I didn't try to take any more pairs on the same night. Still, I kept thinking about it from time to time, trying to figure out a way to get a really good stereo pair with good angular separation. Finally, I thought, "Why not take advantage of the fact that the moon travels north and south in much the same way as the sun does as the seasons pass." This should result in a different point of view for two images. However, the difference in points of view will be in the north-south direction, rather than west to east, as the same night method would produce. For this reason, the rest of the images on this page have the north-south axis roughly horizontal. This method would also eliminate the problems of where the terminator was when the moon is within 6 hours or so of being full. The first pair that I put together was from October and December 2003.

This pair of images shows a little more curvature, although the difference in the vantage points is not very great, since the moon is nearly at its northermost excursion in December, and not much south of that in October. As the months rolled by, I tried to get clear images each time the moon was full, but bad weather often prevented obtaining images. The next pair is from February and March 2004.

Unfortunately, the February image was taken quite a few hours away from full, so the terminator intereferes with making these two a great pair. Still, the curvature is more pronounced, and the moon begins to look convex, but not yet spherical.
The next pair was made up of images from March and July 2004. In this pair of images, the terminator is visible in the lower left of the right image, which prevents this combination from being excellent, but the moon does look quite spherical.

Next, combining the February and July images produces a pair that goes beyond spherical! This pair makes it look as if the moon is being extruded toward the viewer. It is hard for the brain to deal with the amount that each eye sees "around the edge" of the moon. Inspecting the images by themselves and comparing the right and left edges, it is amazing to realize how much more of the moon can me seen from its north and south movements! Still, viewing this is uncomfortable.

Finally, in August, I captured an image that, when combined with one of the March images, completes the best pair I've been able to assemble. This one has none of the problems with the terminator, and has a good, spherical "feel" to it.

I hope that you have enjoyed viewing my stereo pairs of the moon.
All photos are copyright 2003,2004 by John C. Ballou. If you would like permission to use them, or are interested in higher resolution pictures, contact me through e-mail by clicking HERE.

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