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VIDEO: See the moon's phases from the ‘dark side'

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Posted at 1:01 PM, Feb 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-09 15:02:08-05

Ever wanted to turn to the dark side — or just see the dark side turn?

Now you can, through a video simulation that shows what the phases of the moon look like from the dark side. Fewer than 25 humans have ever seen this in person.

The video was released by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Wednesday.

The dark side of the moon isn’t actually dark – it’s just not visible from Earth. That’s because the moon’s rotation is synchronized with its orbit, which is fairly common with moons.

The Earth-facing side, in a way, is darker than the dark side because it is full of lava flows named for oceans and seas. Apollo 12 landed in the Ocean of Storms, for instance. The far side is more uniformly light and full of craters.

The dark side of the moon was first seen in 1959 by the Soviet Luna 3 probe. Humans took the first photos in 1968 on Apollo 8. Data for the simulation came from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, launched by NASA in 2009.

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk.