The moon we see in the sky most nights is only half the picture. There’s a whole other side of the lunar surface that is hidden from us. The good news: NASA has released an animated video giving a detailed look at the other side of the moon.
We are unable to see the far side of the moon because it turns on its axis at the same rate that it orbits Earth. The phenomenon is called synchronous rotation or tidal locking. The video, which uses data compiled from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, shows that the far side of the moon goes through phases, just like the visible side.
Up close, the far side of the moon is much different in appearance. Unlike the front side, which is smooth and covered with large dark spots, called maria, the far side is littered with craters of all sizes, evidence of the many impacts Earth's satellite has experienced. We see how the moon looks in relation to our planet from the far side; a straight shot shows Earth looming behind a much smaller moon, while a close-up shows Earth looking much smaller and farther away.
This isn’t our first look at the far side of the moon. That came in 1959, when the Soviet Luna 3 probe was launched and collected a few grainy images. Since then, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has mapped the moon in detail, giving us views that were not available in the past.