The Juno spacecraft flew by Earth on October 23, leveraging a bit of Earth's pull to catapult itself off to Jupiter. While it was close by, it took pictures. Engineers at NASA/JPL-Caltech put the images starting from October 9th together to show the sequence -and it includes the moon! What resulted was the first ever video of the moon orbiting the Earth -or at least a part of its orbit, as it passes between the spacecraft and Earth on its way around the planet. Phil Plait at Bad Astronomy tells us:
My favorite part of this is actually the Moon: Note how dark and gray it looks. That’s because it is. On average, the Moon reflects about 12 percent of the sunlight that hits it, while the Earth reflects closer to 40 percent. And while our planet is a lovely blue, the Moon is mostly gray rock.
Also, the video starts just when, from Juno’s point of view, the Moon happened to be lined up near the Earth. It actually orbits Earth more than 100 times farther away than its own diameter! The Moon is 3474 km (2150 miles) across, and orbits 400,000 km (240,000 miles) away. That distance gets magnified as Juno zooms toward the pair, so the Moon slides off the field of view to the right, not to be seen again.
The spacecraft came as close as 560 kilometers from the Earth as it passed by. It is expected to reach Jupiter in 2016.