Follow the Moon shadow on your coffee table

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The MOON model mimics the phases of the real Moon

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A London-based team has created a unique model for people keen to track the Moon's cycle. MOON is a 3D lunar model fitted with a rotating LED arm that mimics the Sun's position, allowing you to watch the Moon wax and wane on your coffee table.

Having 3D printed one master MOON using data gathered by the Institute of Planetary Research on NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission, the team created topographically accurate molds. Should the project get off the ground, sale units will be rotocasted from hard polyurethane resin in these molds.

Although it allows for accurate detailing, this process does involve joining two separate pieces together, which means there's a seam running down the middle of the globe. Rather than trying to hide it, the team behind Moon is using it to distinguish between the side of the Moon facing Earth, and the far, or dark, side of the Moon we can't see.

Beyond just acting as a model of the Moon's surface, the MOON unit is also fitted with an LED ring on a 260 mm (10 in) long arm to mimic the Sun's position and lighting. As well as allowing owners to manually move the light and see what the Moon looks like at certain points in its cycle, there's a live function to mirror the actual lunar synodic month.

Attached to the base unit is a custom coded computer, with a realtime clock and gearing system to make sure it stays in sync with the Moon and Sun's positions. When you flick the mode switch to Live, the computer moves the arm to create a waxing, waning or full Moon. Determined moonwatchers keen to track a full cycle could, potentially, even sit and stare at their model for approximately 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 2.8 seconds.

The MOON team is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, where the project has raised over £15,500 (US$21,940) of its £25,000 ($35,390) goal with 29 days remaining. Pledges start at £5, but you'll have to part with at least £450 ($637) to get your hands on a globe and LED sun unit.

Even if you have the money, it's important to note you'll also need a 550 x 550 mm (21.6 x 21.6 in) space on your desk to let the arm complete its full rotation.

Should everything go to plan, the team is planning to offer globes with a diameter of 173 mm (6.8 in) and 300 mm (11.8 inches). According to its creators, the larger globe displays more detail because of its size in relation to the 3D printer, but won't be available with the LED arm.

The team's pitch video for MOON is below.

View gallery - 12 images

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