So, we come to the end of our little moon walk or at least to the last couple of days of the adventure.
So, we come to the end of our little moon walk or at least to the last couple of days of the adventure. We’ve covered vaguely a few of the effects (both good and bad) that the Moon has had on mans journey from very early days in his evolution to now and that journey and his association with Earth’s only natural satellite will continue for some time yet. It is my feeling that we (humans) will go once again to the Moon to set up a base for research and then travel beyond. We will return to build however, as it will be easier to bring material back to the Moon from somewhere else (Mar’s for instance) than to boost it up there from earth. Time will tell I guess!
I must admit that I was somewhat surprised to learn from a few of my most adept colleagues that they don’t look at my little night time friend as mush as I do or feel they should and rather more enjoy the Deep Sky wonders of our universe. However, one or two of them were seen guiding their telescopes in that direction in a recent ‘Public Viewing’ night held by our small Astronomy Group (T.A.G.) and indeed it seemed with more than just a passing interest. Maybe like the rest of humanity in the future they too will get back to it. One can only hope.
Over the past few weeks we’ve learnt that the mapping or study of the Moons surface is called ‘Selenology’ and the material that passes for soil up there is called ‘Regolith’ also that the craters come in all shapes and sizes with a miraculous number of different features both in and around them. Rilles, Faults, Domes, Ranges, Plateau’s, Terraces and an ever lengthening list of intriguing features wait to ‘Wow’ the socks off newcomers to Astronomy and indeed the visiting public! As I have stated before I feel a good quality, moderately sized telescope will do the trick for both viewing the Moon and those other far away wonders from our Solar System and beyond. Such a telescope should hold back the onset of ‘aperture fever’ that dreadful disease that eventually effects so many of us to the obvious delight of the people who sell these instruments.
I think in the past few weeks I’ve covered most of the ‘non-science’ simple stuff from it’s (the Moon) effects on man, me and rabbits (god only knows I may have starved when I was younger if it hadn’t been for Bunnies and the effect the Full Moon had on them and their mating habits).
OK! It may be a good idea at this time to get on with the last couple of days on ‘The Terminator’ including Full Moon (day 15). Starting off on Day 13 of viewing with the large and very beautiful crater ‘Tycho’ still very prominent in the southeast we have three (3) craters all about the same size (give or take a little) just appearing over the terminator in the high south. They are ‘Kircher’, ‘Bettinus’ and ‘Zucchius’ and have diameters of 77km to 84km. These craters are best seen now as they seem to wash out a little on Full Moon.
Schiller is still visible however and it’s elongated appearance is (I think) even more apparent now than before we covered this crater on about Day 11 but its 180km length is best viewed on Days 12-13 with its western wall lit by the sun. Now still on Day 13 cast your focus a little to the west where a crater of 120km named ‘Phocylides’ is seen just appearing on the extreme edge of the terminator with its western wall nicely lit and the bottom not yet visible. That however is not the case for the enormous feature sitting just below (to the north) ‘Phocylides’ also on the very edge and in plain sight in its entirety. This is ‘Schickard’ a huge crater of 216km kilometres with a few smaller impact points on its seemingly darker floor. This crater is a must visit and I find it really good in our 254mm Newtonian (Skywatcher) with a 17mm Hyperion (Baader) E/P which yields around 70x and the supplied 25mm Plossl at around 48x is also quite good. Most viewing (of the Moon) can be done around these powers, (personal opinion) unless a right up close view is needed, I guess!
I also have a small 130mm (5”) Newtonian (Skywatcher) with a built in Barlow Lens that does a really good job on the Moon patrol with a 20mm Plossl at around 60x, so it’s very much a personal choice, I feel!
This area is still in the heavily damaged southern highlands we will however re-visit ‘Mare Humorum’ which now stands out well on the Moon’s nearly full face. A really good view can also now be had of craters like ‘Gassendi’, ‘Mersinius’ and ‘Liebig’ with ‘Rupes Liebig’ still visible.
Further to the north but slightly inland is a rather nicely formed little crater of 44km called ‘Billy’ It has really clean walls and a very smooth floor and is one of a pair of craters about the same size although the second ‘Hansteen’ at 47km is not as stand out as its mate. There are Rilles and Ghost Craters to be viewed in this area which sit in the southern region of ‘Oceanus Procellarum” a really good view of the ‘Aristarchus’ Plateau can be had on Day 13. This plateau was covered on Day 12 and is home to two (2) prominent craters in ‘Herodotus’, ‘Aristarchus’ and ‘Schroters Valley’. These are a must see but do not stand out as well on Day 15 only ‘Aristarchus’ which shows out white is visible but still worth the effort!
Now we travel further to the north through the ‘Oceanus’ to a strip of higher country between ‘Sinus Iridum’ to the east and ‘Sinus Roris’ to the west. There are several small craters in this spot. The four (4) biggest are all about the same size at 39-41km and are from south to north ‘Mairan’, ‘Sharp’, ‘Bianchini’ and ‘Harpalus’. These craters are similar in appearance with the notable difference being in the position of the latter, ‘Harpalus’. It is firmly entrenched right in the middle of our everyday friend ‘Mare Frigoris’ which comes to an end when it couples up with ‘Sinus Roris’ and the north-eastern end of ‘Oceanus Procellarum’ on Day 15 bringing to an end a 1,600km odyssey 2/3’s of the way across the northern end of the Moon.
Our next stop to the north is a large crater with very irregular walls which give the impression of being hit by other smaller objects. The floor is also fairly rough on the northern end. The crater is listed as ‘baggage’ (aren’t we all) and has a diameter of 143km. There are a number of craters here in the rougher northern area and being right on the Terminator they will be revealed or hidden by libration as time goes on so always have a look around the limb if you don’t have access to information about libration. This information is available in Australian Sky and Telescope magazine monthly and also on some websites.
Day 15 (Full Moon) brings us a full panoramic view of the whole of the Moon that faces us all the time. Although it is extremely bright, the whiter younger craters stand out like lights if you darken the view with filters. I like to use ‘Lumicon’ Moon Filters, piggyback, that is 1 or 2 screwed together on the E/P or a Polarizing Filter (adjustable). At this stage in the Moons phases one can see all of the ‘Maria’ together. The vast ‘Appennine Mountain Range’ and to the north the ‘Caucasus Mountain Range’ separate ‘Mare Serenitatis’ from the larger ‘Mare Imbrium’ and really stand out well along with other features such as ‘Tycho’ and ‘Copernicus’ craters with their iconic ejecta rays. Other smaller craters with ejecta rays such as ‘Furnerius A’, ‘Proclus’, ‘Kepler’ and a whole list of others equally worth mention stand out well at this time.
Although it is not a favourite time for a lot of amateur astronomers, a view of Full Moon is a must so one can appreciate the Full Moon range of phases from beginning to end of the cycle.
It’s been an amazing journey folks! If however you wish to keep track of the Moon for the rest of the month you can look up every night now and watch the ‘Old Fella’ disappear from the east. You get a whole new perspective on the craters we have already covered only now it’s sort of from the other side with the light falling on the eastern walls of craters and mounts as it goes.
I’ve has a whole heap of fun doing this and hope it has helped at least a few to look up at the Moon and wonder about the future.
I must for a final time thank all of my un-met friends for their marvellous viewing aides and publications. They are truly fine works and can’t be recommended too highly.
So thanks to: www.astrovisuals.com.au for their fantastic Moon Phase Maps.
www.myastroshop.com.au for ‘Exploring the Moon’ by Steve Massey.
‘The Atlas of the Southern Night Sky’ by Steve Massey and Steve Quirk.
Thanks again and I’ll see you all again one dark night.