Category: Lunar log
For me, the most interesting features imaged were Clavius (previously published in this blog), Copernicus and Montes Riphaeus, and finally the Plato area (will be published in the near future). I used the Nikon coolpix 4500 and a 20mm Vixen Lanthanum eyepiece combined with a Baader IR/UV cut filter for the overview image of the Copernicus-Riphaeus area (images 2 and 3).
Image 1: Overview of a nearly full Moon
On the image above, an overview image of a nearly full Moon (which I shot in August 2004 with the TAL 100RS mounted on a photo-tripod!), the transparent yellow patch represents the area that you is shown on overview image 2 and 3. Image 1 his been severely processed, to emphasize the contrast between the Maria and the Terrae.
Maria and Terrae
Roughly, the lunar landscape can be divided in two types of surface, the dark areas known as Maria and the light areas known as Terrae. The Maria, or seas, are the grey smooth plains on the lunar surface. The Terrae, also known as highlands or uplands, are the bright and rugged areas of the Moon, full with craters, mountain-ridges and other interesting features. But why are they called Maria and Terrae?
In the year 1609, Galileo was the first person to look at the Moon with a telescope. Galileo concluded from his observations that the Moon's geography was not so different from our earth. He saw mountains, valleys and plains. Mistakenly he thought that the dark smooth areas he saw were oceans. That's why he called them Maria (Latin for seas). The brighter parts, a much more rugged terrain, were called Terrae (Latin for lands). In reality however, the Maria tend to be the lowland and the Terrae the highland.
Before we take a closer look at Copernicus, I would like to point out a few other interesting features that can be seen on the images 2/3. Lets start in the Southwest with Montes Riphaeus and Euclides (Rukl 40/41). Tonight this isolated mountain range was visible near the terminator. The formation immediately drew my attention because of its distinct form. Together with the southwestern rim of Euclides P it looked like a starfish with the crater Euclides at its centre. Euclides is a young, simple impact crater with a very sharp and well-defined rim. Its diameter is 12km. In stark contrast with this young crater is the old crater Euclides P, which lies to the north of Montes Riphaeus, on the shores of Mare Insularum. The crater almost completely vanished beneath dark Mare material. The tip of the arrow that points out Euclides P touches the southwestern rim of the crater.
Images 2 and 3, Copernicus and Montes Riphaeus area (click to enlarge)
To the northeast of Euclides P lies the Apollo 12 landing area. To the East of the Montes Riphaeus, in the hills north of Fra Mauro (Rukl 42) you can see the Apollo 14 landing place. Between Reinhold and Copernicus (Rukl 31) lies the double-crater Fauth and Fauth A. Together they are shaped like a keyhole. On the Apollo 12 image (image 5) you can see Fauth-Fauth A in close up, lying before Copernicus.
My favorite crater on image 2/3 is Copernicus, a young crater from the Copernican period (somewhere between the present and 1.1 billion years ago). Copernicus is a typical Tycho-style large complex crater. It has a diameter of 93 km and a depth of 3750 meters. The crater rim rises to a height of 1100 meters above the surrounding terrain. The 54 km wide floor looks more or less flat with a group of central peaks. The walls are terraced, which you can see only vaguely on image 2/3, but if you have a closer look at the Apollo image (image 5) the broad terraces are very obvious.
A blanket of ejecta surrounds Copernicus, which is typical for a complex crater of this size. Near full Moon you can see the extensive crater ray system that surrounds Copernicus (see image 4 below, image taken with TAL 100RS). The Copernicus rays are very bright. This is caused by the fact that during the impact that formed Copernicus, pieces of bright highland material were excavated and launched into all directions. The bright material landed on top of the darker Mare lava, producing a beautiful contrast.
Image 4 (left), Copernicus crater rays (click to enlarge), Image 5 (right), Copernicus (click to enlarge) Image credit: NASA
Copernicus is definitely my favorite complex crater. Next time I will try to get some high-resolution images of the crater itself and its immediate surroundings. « Collapse
I roamed through this wonderful area for more than two hours, and at the end of my observing session I shot a few images. I’m really proud of the image below, which is the sharpest single-shot image I ever managed to get of this particular interesting region. I used the 8-ich TAL 200K, the Nikon Coolpix 4500 and a 20mm Vixen Lanthanum eyepiece (equipped with a Baader IR block-filter). I also used a 2x Xtend-a-View pro from EagleEye OpticZoom. This little gadget made focusing the coolpix a lot easier.
Anyway, both images below are identical, but the image on the left is simply the image as it is and on the image on the right I added the names for the most prominent (and some not so prominent) features in the Longomontanus-Clavius-Moretus region. Click on the images to enlarge. Enjoy!
The image is a single shot image (not stacked) taken on January 9th 2006, 21.06 UT. Shutter time was 1/30s, f=5.1, 4x optical zoom, iso 100. The image was processed (unsharp masking, resize, levels, de-noised on several different levels).
Where to find Schickard and Wargentin
Schickard is a large old crater with a diameter of 227kilometres. When observing Schickard through a telescope, you will immediately notice the absence of central peaks or peak rings. You will also see
Schickard is very shallow compared to other craters of this size, only about 1.5 kilometres deep (Clavius is 5 kilometres deep). The original crater floor probably has been flooded with lava which covered the central peaks completely. After that a thin layer of bright highland material was thrown like a blanket over the dark crater floor (ejecta from the Orientale Basin formation). This bright layer is still visible in the centre of Schickard. Near the edges of the crater (upper left and lower right) there was some additional lava flooding later on. These are the dark patches that can be seen in Schickard. (See C. Wood, the Modern Moon pages 177/178).
Wargentin is a very mysterious crater. It seems as if this 84 kilometre wide crater is filled right up to the rim, looking like a kind of plateau. Wargentin indeed is completely filled, probably with volcanic material, and covered with a layer of brighter highland material (again from the Orientale Basin formation). You can see the rim of Wargentin very clearly as well as one or two wrinkled ridges on its flooded floor.
Other interesting features to explore in this region are the elongated crater Schiller, which together with Zuchius marks the Schiller Zuchius impact basin and of course Bailly, another impact basin south of Zuchius.
Click to enlarge
The image is the result of stacking 10 images shot with the 8-inch TAL 200K, a 32mm Televue Plossl and the Nikon Coolpix 4500. Settings of the Nikon Coolpix: s-mode, 1/30s, f 5.1, iso 100, 4x optical zoom, 2272x1704 pixels. The image was processed using unsharp masking and level adjustments.
A few degenerated large craters surround Pythagoras. In front of Pythagoras, to the left, lies Babbage with on its floor two smaller craters, Babbage A and C. In front of Babbage lies a more or less rectangular degenerated crater South. This crater is very hard to detect on this image. Only the eastern rim is clearly visible. To the east and southeast of Pythagoras lies Anaximander and J. Herschel. These are both more or less degenerated craters as well. Towards the lunar limb you see the walls of two other craters lit by the Sun. These craters are Desargues and Pascal.
To find the Pythagoras area, start from Sinus Iridum (Rukl map 10) and move in north-northwestern direction across Mare Frigoris.
This image was shot on 22 April 2005 with the TAL 200K, a 20mm Vixen Lanthanum eyepiece, the Coolpix 4500 with 4 x optical zoom and two filters, the Baader Contrast Booster and the Baader IR/UV cut filter. Settings where shutter 1/30s, f 5.1, ISO 100. This image is the result of 10 stacked images (Keiths Image Stacker), processed changing the levels and applying unsharp masking.
On May 11 2005 I observed Petavius and Rimae Petavius with the 8 inch TAL Klevtzov-Cassegrain. Petavius is a large, complex floor fractured crater near the eastern limb of the Moon. For a detailed observing report and a digital image of the Petavius area follow this link.
The next day, on May 12 2005 I joined Leo, a fellow observer who lives just down the road, to observe the Moon through his new telescope, the TAL 250K, a 10-inch Klevtzov Cassegrain mounted on a Lichtenknecker mount. The seeing wasn’t too good, but we still had a lot of fun observing the Moon, especially Petavius and the western Mare Crisium area with two ghost craters and some old capes. For a more detailed report and some digital images of the Moon and the new telescope follow this link.
I added a detailed image of the Mare Fecunditatis area (including Vendelinus and Langrenus) to the Solar System section of my site. You can identify most of the larger features when you move the mouse-pointer anywhere over the image. For more details just follow this link to read the full story.....
On friday 22 April Jupiter and the moon rose above our house around 20.00 hours UT. The seeing was good so I got the telescope out to observe the Moon. I was amazed by the colour of the Aristarchus plateau. I never noticed this before. It looked a dark grey diamond-shaped area with a hint of green. The contrast with its surroundings was clearly visible, even at a low magnification. I include two images just to give you an idea.
The first image is the Moon and Jupiter, the second the Aristarchus area. On the first image, the Moon is over-exposed, to capture Jupiter as well. The image of the Aristarchus area is shot in black and white. I wasn’t able to capture the colour difference, but you see that the plateau is a different from its surroundings. On the plateau (Rukl 18) the Schroter Valley is clearly visible. Near the terminator you can see the remains of three large walled plains, Eddington, Russel and Struve (Rukl 17)
Here’s an image with some interesting lunar features. The Moon is about 5 days old. In the south you see the eastern part of Mare Serenitatis with a beautiful wrinkled ridge, looking like a snake with a forked tongue, the Serpentine ridge (Dorsa Smirnov). At the northern end of the Serpentine Ridge, lies the walled plain Posidonius, with some interesting features on the crater floor. Near the centre of Posidonius you can see a small crater, Posidonius A, surrounded by a few hills. Visually I detected a rille in the north-south direction near the western rim of Posidonius. There are more rilles across the crater floor, but I did not see them tonight (March 16th 2005). Posidonius marks the north-eastern border of Mare Serenitatis.
North of Serenitatis lies another dark area, Lacus Somniorum. North of Somniorum lies Lacus Mortis with the crater Burg at its centre. To the east of Lacus Mortis you can see the beautiful pair of craters, Hercules and Atlas, to the west you can see the rim of Aristoteles is lit by the Sun.