I am trying to determine the lunar surface near or far side daytime illumination levels in Lux or foot-candles but there seems to be no directly measured values available. I did find this information on the levels as measured from earth, so it should be possible to work backwards to arrive at those values I presume. My math is very rusty indeed though, so thought I'd put the question to some experts. How bright is moonlight? https://academic.oup.com/astrogeo/article/58/1/1.31/2938119

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    $\begingroup$ You'll want to look at vol 51 no 5 of the Bell System Technical Journal. Appendix A (pp. 1055-1073) is entirely about lunar light. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Apr 18, 2020 at 2:22
  • $\begingroup$ I see you've followed my advice, but I realize that I should have said something about deleting it there first. In Stack Exchange cross-posting the same question in multiple sites is strongly discouraged, one reason is that it leads to answer fragmentation. It's a good idea to delete one of these instances. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Apr 18, 2020 at 3:35
  • $\begingroup$ I changed the title to "radiance" because "illumination" is not strictly a physics term and could be confused with "irradiance," the amount of light hitting the moon. $\endgroup$ Apr 18, 2020 at 22:19

1 Answer 1


Illumination of the moon's surface at night in full earth is 15-17lx

Magazine "Техника кино и телевидения" 1972, #5, page 44 http://www.planetology.ru/panoramas/selivanov_i_dr_1972_tevizionnye_sistemy_panoramnogo_obzora.pdf?language=russian

The camera was equipped with an automatic sensitivity adjustment system, which ensured the transmission of high-quality images in the illumination range from 80 to 150,000 lux.

FIRST PANORAMAS of LUNAR SURFACE. Publishing House "Nauka", Moscow, 1966 http://epizodsspace.airbase.ru/bibl/ziv/1966/6/89-z-1b.pdf

  • $\begingroup$ Unfortunately my Russian skills are worse than my math skills. I did find some information in English from "The measurements of sky brightness on Lunokhod-2" and from NASA "Lighting Constraints on Lunar Surface Operations" $\endgroup$
    – Solon
    Apr 20, 2020 at 17:37

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