Clair de Lune 4K Version – Moon Images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter


This visualization uses a digital 3D model of the Moon built from global elevation maps and image mosaics by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission. It was created to accompany a performance of Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune by the National Symphony Orchestra Pops, led by conductor Emil de Cou, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, on June 1 and 2, 2018, as part of a celebration of NASA’s 60th anniversary.

Clair de Lune (moonlight in French) was published in 1905, as the third of four movements in the composer’s Suite Bergamasque, and unlike the other parts of this work, Clair is quiet, contemplative, and slightly melancholy, evoking the feeling of a solitary walk through a moonlit garden.

The visuals were composed like a nature documentary, with clean cuts and a mostly stationary virtual camera. The viewer follows the Sun throughout a lunar day, seeing sunrises and then sunsets over prominent features on the Moon. The sprawling ray system surrounding Copernicus crater, for example, is revealed beneath receding shadows at sunrise and later slips back into darkness as night encroaches.

This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio at:

Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

If you liked this video, subscribe to the NASA Goddard YouTube channel:

Visualization Credits
Ernie Wright (USRA)
Lead Visualizer and Editor

Laurence Schuler (ADNET Systems Inc.)
Technical Support

Ian Jones (ADNET Systems Inc.)
Technical Support

Wade Sisler (NASA/GSFC)

Noah Petro (NASA/GSFC)

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