Red moon desert

From Windows Wallpaper Wiki
Red moon desert
Image information
Original titleFull Moon over Red Dunes
Licensed fromCorbis
Originates fromCorbis
PhotographerCharles O'Rear
Takenc. 1998-1999
LocationKalahari Gemsbok National Park, South Africa
License typeRoyalty free
Windows information
SoftwareWindows XP
Original filenameOR006712
File typeJPEG (.jpg)

Red moon desert, originally known as Full Moon over Red Dunes, is a wallpaper included in Windows XP, licensed from Corbis. It was taken by Charles O'Rear in the late 90s, who also took XP's iconic default wallpaper, Bliss. It depicts part of Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, South Africa at night, with the moon visible in the left corner. O'Rear also shot several photos of the same desert on the same photo shoot. The image also appears on a card in cards.dll.

People have observed that the moon appears to be upside down compared to what is seen in the Northern Hemisphere, giving rise to the possibility that it is a digital composite.[1] However, O'Rear has never confirmed this. It is also worth noting that the moon is not upside down on images related to it, and the image as a whole is more saturated in appearance compared to the alternate shots.


After Westlight was acquired by Corbis in 1998, the company sent O'Rear around the world for a year to take photos of wine regions. During his time in South Africa, he also took several photos of the desert in Kalahari Gemsbok National Park at night. The ID of the photo when it was available on Corbis was OR006712, which is also revealed to be the image's original file name in the metadata.

In 2000, Microsoft licensed it for use in Windows XP, then codenamed Whistler. It was one of the first new wallpapers to be included with the operating system, along with Azul, Bliss, Follow (then titled Follow me), Moon flower, and Vortec space. It appeared as the default wallpaper from builds 2423 to 2464.

As the desert series of images were part of an assignment for the company, Corbis owned the rights to them until 2016, when its image licensing business was sold to Unity Glory, an affliate of Getty Images partner Visual China Group. They currently own the rights, and consequently none of these shots appear on his PhotoShelter, where he has made several of his own photos available for licensing. However, as all of the shots except the one used in XP were taken down, it is unclear who currently owns the rights to the other shots, although possibly still Unity Glory.

Usage as default wallpaper

According to Microsoft programmer Raymond Chen on his blog The Old New Thing, Red moon desert was originally intended to be XP's default wallpaper, but was allegedly changed due to some testers feeling it resembled a pair of buttocks,[2] leading to O'Rear's other photo Bliss becoming the default wallpaper. While this wallpaper was temporarily set as the default wallpaper during Whistler, this story does not appear to be true; Bliss had already been selected based on extensive research by design manager Rob Girling and his team, and the Luna theme shares the same color scheme as the wallpaper. It is more likely the wallpaper was set to default as a decoy; the unleaked Lab06 build 2415 predates build 2423, and shows Bliss set as the wallpaper.

Alternate shots

Red moon desert is one of many desert shots taken by O'Rear in Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in the late 90s. It was part of a series of 12 images on Corbis of the same area; some of these are noticeably similar to the one included in XP, such as a vertical shot and a shot of the same spot with no moon present. However, they do not appear to be digital composites, as the moon is not upside down in any of them and the desert/sky is not as saturated. While this series was transferred to Getty Images, all of the rights-managed shots became restricted assets in January 2020 before being taken down in December 2020. Red moon desert, however, remains commercially available due to it being royalty free to begin with.

There were also alternate shots that were not submitted to Corbis at the time. Among these is one that takes place during daytime. This appears to be a digital composite, as the desert appears very similar to Red moon desert's, and the clouds have appeared in other digital composite photos O'Rear produced. There is also one that takes place during sunset, but this would have been taken in an earlier photoshoot as it originates from Westlight, meaning it was taken before 1998.

Names in other languages

This section is incomplete. If you have any other translations, please add them.

Language Name Translation
Arabic صحراء مقمرة
Ṣaḥrāʾ muqmara
Moonlit desert
Chinese Simplified 日落的沙漠

Rìluò de shāmò

Desert at sunset
Chinese Traditional 日落的沙漠 Desert at sunset
Czech Měsíc nad pouští The moon over the desert
Danish Rødt ørkenlandskab Red desert landscape
Dutch Woestijn Desert
French Désert sous la lune Desert under the moon
German Wüstenmond Moon desert
Greek Πανσέληνος στην κόκκινη έρημο
Pansélinos stin kókkini érimo
Full moon in the red desert
Hungarian Vörös sivatag Red desert
Italian Deserto rosso Red desert
Japanese 夕陽の砂丘
Yūhi no sakyū
Dunes of the setting sun
Korean 달과 붉은 사막
Dalgwa bulg-eun samag
Moon and red desert
Norwegian Rød måne-ørken Red moon desert
Polish Czerwona pustynia Red desert
Portuguese Deserto vermelho Red desert
Russian Красная пустыня
Krasnaja pustynja
Red desert
Spanish Desierto rojo con luna Red desert with moon
Swedish Ökenmåne Desert moon
Turkish Kızıl çölde ay Moon in the red desert
Romanian Deșertul lună roșie Red Moon desert


  1. Strutner, Suzy (January 24, 2014). "The Real-Life Places Behind Your Favorite Desktop Backgrounds Revealed". Huffington Post.
  2. Chen, Raymond (August 25, 2003). "Windows brings out the Rorschach test in everyone". The Old New Thing.

External links