MOON – An Accurate Lunar Globe that Includes the Sun

British engineers are crowdfunding a lunar globe developed with NASA data and circled by an LED sun to show a true lunar cycle.

Oscar Lhermitte wanted to create a lunar globe with physical craters and details that would give better information than current smooth globes built from photographs. Lhermitte is an industrial designer, maker, and engineer with lots of experience helping people to launch crowdfunding projects so he decided to create an accurate and intricate lunar globe. Along with Alex du Perez and Peter Krige, Oscar is running a successful Kickstarter campaign for MOON – the most accurate lunar globe.

MOON is built at 1/20millionth scale, with a 173 millimeter diameter and a 1.8 kilogram weight. A light ring circles the moon and acts as the sun to create realistic shadows on the moon. With the ring and the stand the dimensions are 370 x 330 x 180 millimeters. A 550 millimeter square is recommended as table space if you want the moon to have clear safe space for full rotation.

There are two things that stand out about this crowdfunding project to me. First, MOON’s topography data is taken from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission through a partnership with the Institute of Planetary Research. Next is the craftsmanship that the campaign page shows regarding the rotomolding process and Oscar’s training in a new process to get the best possible part. That really shows a maker spirit to me, when someone learns a new skill in the service of their current project.

MOON’s brain is a gearing system with a microcontroller attached. The system has 64 kilobytes of memory and a motor / feedback system to control the rotation of the sun around the moon. Three modes are available to control the system. Manual mode lets you rotate the sun yourself to see different lunar phases on demand. Demo mode shows a full lunar cycle in thirty seconds. Live mode gives you real time view of the sun’s position around the moon, and changes with the lunar cycle. Live mode will cycle through every 29 days (and 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 2.80 seconds, I’ve learned.)

This is a great Kickstarter campaign with great technical content and a sharp content heavy campaign video. The campaign ends on May 13, 2016 and first units are expected to ship in November, 2016.