Explore the AstroReality Moon with a Macro Lens

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Working at B&H Photo, there are any number of “Nerd Alerts!” that happen around the SuperStore and offices daily. New camera gear, new audio gear, computers, gadgets, and more come to B&H Photo and find a warm reception from the staff here. Taking a Nerd Alert to DEFCON 5 are the 3-D printed, hyper-accurate, lunar models from AstroReality, including the LUNAR Pro Globe, which measures a hand-filling 4.72" in diameter—1:116,020,845 scale if you are keeping score at home. Arriving in the offices, this hefty model of Earth’s natural satellite, and my favorite photo subject, got as much attention (maybe more?) than some of the hottest new lenses and cameras. Everyone wanted to get their hands on the LUNAR Pro Globe to feel the surface of the moon with their fingers and explore the craters and mare with their own eyes.

Photographs ©Todd Vorenkamp

AstroReality combined the rich data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s (LRO) cameras (see this link for more information on the LRO’s camera systems) and precision 3-D printing technology to get what has to be the most accurate relief map globes of the moon ever created—down to 0.006 millimeters per pixel. Many of the finishing details are completed by hand, so each LUNAR Pro is unique. Your eye can easily see that the surface of the model moon is exquisitely textured and detailed, but, we also trained the 5x macro magnification power of the Venus Optics Laowa 25mm f/2.8 2.5-5x Ultra Macro Lens on the surface of the replica moon to be impressed by the granular detail. In my head, I thought it would be fairly easy to make simulated lunar photographs but, even working in our well-stocked studio, I found it challenging to narrow the light beam tightly enough to avoid illuminating the black backdrop or black felt surface on which I was resting the lunar globe.

Also featured with the AstroReality models (feel free to explore Earth, dwarf planet Pluto, Mars, and an entire mini Solar System of 8 planets—not to scale) is an augmented reality experience that, when you download an iOS or Android smart device application, explore details of each celestial body by pointing your phone or tablet’s camera at the model. With our LUNAR Pro Globe, we could explore terrain details, the destinations of different lunar spacecraft, including the Apollo mission landing sites, and watch an animated simulation of the Apollo 11 mission’s landing.

Screenshots of the LUNAR Pro’s augmented reality functionality

The grapefruit-sized LUNAR Pro Globe is made of poly resin and is surprisingly heavy, so if you hand it to a small child, be sure to supervise their lunar exploration from somewhere closer than Mission Control in Houston. However, this makes a fantastic STEM gift for science-inclined kids and parents alike, plus, it looks amazing just sitting on your desk or shelf.

Fans of the moon or our solar system neighbors will certainly enjoy the beautiful detail of the AstroReality models and all space fans will certainly enjoy the other space-related items in the AstroReality line of products.

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