The Geometry of Shadows




Mobile Suit Gundam: High Frontier

Life In The Universal Century

The Geometry of Shadows

In addition to creating zone of stability in the Moon’s orbit in which to build permanent space habitats, the Lagrange librations points have a unique geometry, such that three of the points form an equilateral triangle and two of those three points form congruent equilateral triangles with the Earth and Moon.


L4 is the Leading Equilateral Point, 60° east (i.e., the direction of the Earth’s rotation or counterclockwise) of the Moon, preceding the Moon in its orbit around the Earth.

L5 is the Trailing Equilateral Point, 60° west (clockwise) of the Moon, following the Moon in its orbit around the Earth.

These two points form congruent equilateral triangles, measuring over 380,000 kilometers (235,000 miles) on each side, with the Earth and Moon as the other two vertices.

L3, the Trans-Earth Lagrange Point, is located opposite the Moon in almost the same orbit, 180° east or west of the Moon and 120° from both L4 and L5, which are also 120° apart. As a result, they form a nearly equilateral triangle, about 760,000 kilometers (472,000 miles) on a side.


In addition, the geometric arrangement of the Lagrange points may contribute to the social and political situations of the Gundam world as much as geography does in Terrestrial history.

Their political distance from the Earth is directly related to physical distance and line of sight—out of sight, out of mind, indeed!

Side 3, located in L2, is the most distant human habitation—60,000 kilometers on the other side of the Moon—and never sees the Earth, because the Moon is between them. The inhabitants don’t have any windows in their closed type Minovsky cylinder, which may be just as well, as all they could see would be the far side of the Moon and the lights of the four Sides at L4 and L5.

Conversely, Side 7, located in L3, not only has windows but also a view of the Earth, the nearby Luna² and the distant lights of the four Sides at L4 and L5 are visible through the windows of their open type O’Neill cylinders. On the other hand, they’ll never see the Moon.


The people of the Moon are divided in their loyalties. Half their world faces the Earth, the other half the stars. If the population is evenly spread out across its barren landscape, half are on literally the side of Earth (as epitomized by Von Braun) and half are on the side of Zeon (as represented by Granada). In reality, the dichotomy is everywhere, as half the population of Von Braun seems to side with Zeon and Granada seems to harbor as many Earth sympathizers.

L1, site of the Frontier colonies in Gundam F91, is always between the Earth and the Moon, in line of sight of the four Sides of L4 and L5 and oblivious to both Side 3 at L2 and Side 7 at L3 due to the intervening Moon and Earth.

The inhabitants seem equally oblivious to the ideologies the polarized Zeon and the Federation 40-odd years before, until the invasion brings it all home in the most literal sense. What was once consigned to musty museum exhibits suddenly becomes all too real, all the more shocking because their physical situation made them think that they were the center of a tranquil universe.

The four Sides at L4 and L5 see all and know all. From their vantage, one can see the whole of the rest of the Earth Sphere in one direction and the vast emptiness of space in the other. Many of the more enlightened characters in the Gundam saga hail from Side 2, situated in L4, while much of the critical action takes place in Side 1, situated in L5.

Much of what we are is a consequence of how we view the world. I note elsewhere that the difference between the Zeon worldview and that of the rest of the Earth Sphere is related to the fact that they alone live in the inward-looking closed type colonies, while everyone else live in the outward-looking open type colonies. I note here that their situation on the far side of the Moon contributes as much to their “manifest destiny in space” philosophy as anything else. Meanwhile, everyone else literally looks toward the Earth, which dominates their sky, as much as any other aspect of their lives.

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Last Update: 01 January 2017

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