Don’t Look At The Moon Tonight
Why? Is there something wrong with it? Is it in the wrong spot? Will I go blind!!! No, not at all. Anyone who received a telescope over the holidays may be itching to try it out.
We’re just saying Full Moon is not the most ideal time to view it, there’s too much light hitting your eye . Half or quarter are better but, of course, the most popular first target for any telescope is our nearest neighbor in space, and you just can’t resist taking a peek can you? OK. Here are some tips to make your first telescopic encounter with the moon more enjoyable. Before looking at the moon with your new telescope, take a good look at it with your naked eyes.
The most noticeable thing about the moon is that it is large enough to show some detail without any optical aid. As the moon moves in its orbit around the Earth, the sun’s light strikes it from different angles, sometimes illuminating only a thin crescent from behind, at other times shining full on, making it a full moon. These are called the moon’s phases.
You can also see a surprising amount of detail on the moon with your naked eye. Most obvious are the shades of gray: the large bright areas mostly on the southern half, and the darker gray areas mostly on the northern half.
Using a telescope
With binoculars you begin to resolve more detail on the moon: mountains, valleys, plains and especially craters. But with even the smallest telescope, a whole new world appears before you, ready to explore. Like any tourist, it will help you to have a good map.
Again, when’s the best time to observe the moon? Most people think it’s around full moon, but in fact this is the worst time. At full moon, the sunlight is falling on the moon’s surface from straight overhead, and it looks like the desert at high noon. You’ll get lots of after-image sin your eyes.
The best times to moon-watch are actually at the two “quarters”: the times when the moon is a quarter way around its orbit, and the sun is hitting it from right or left. First quarter and half moon are great: the right half in sunlight and the left half in shadow. Two or three nights on either side of this phase will be equally good.
Focus on the terminator
Concentrate your observing along the terminator, the boundary between light and dark. The sun is rising along this line, and so the shadows are at their maximum length. In fact, if you watch for a few minutes, you can actually see the shadows change as the sun rises.
A lot of beginners are surprised at how bright the moon is in a telescope. In fact, it is only as bright as an asphalt highway on a sunny day, but it seems much brighter because we’re usually observing the moon in a dark sky from a dark location.
If the brightness bothers you, try observing before the sky is completely dark, or else turn some lights on at your observing location.
As the moon gets closer to full the terminator moves closer to the edge of the moon, and it gets harder to see detail. As noted above, the full moon is literally a washout with a telescope, though perfect for romantic evenings.
A few nights after full, the moon starts to get interesting in the telescope again but at this point, many people lose the moon. That’s because the moon, in its orbit around the Earth, rises about 50 minutes later each night. By third quarter, on Feb. 14, the moon rises around midnight and is high in the southern sky at dawn.
If staying up late to observe the moon doesn’t agree with you, try observing it first thing in the morning instead. Once again, observing in a blue sky helps kill the glare.
What is the best magnification to use on the moon? Try all of them; they’re all good.
A low magnification of around 50x will show you the whole moon and give you the “big picture.” But to see the moon at its best, try a high magnification, at least 150x. The moon can tolerate high magnification better than any object in the sky. This also has the added benefit of reducing the glare from the moon.
The only time high magnification can’t be used is just as the moon is rising or setting. When close to the horizon, the moon is so blurry it looks like it is deep in boiling water.
With a good map of the moon in hand, try “crater-hopping” your way up or down the terminator. See how many craters you can identify, noting the variety of their sizes and shapes, what their walls look like, and what they have on their floors. What other topographic features can you see? Look for mountains, both isolated peaks and mountain ranges. Many of these are named for their counterparts on Earth.
Apollo landing sites
There are things on the moon that you never or almost never see on Earth. There are rilles: systems of grooves in the surface, thought to be the remnants of collapsed lava tubes. There are domes — gentle swellings in the relatively flat surfaces of lunar “seas” and flat-floored craters.
Look for the landing sites of the Apollo astronauts. You won’t see any of the stuff they left behind, because they are too small to see from this distance, but you can often identify nearby geographic features.
Like any good tourist, try to take some pictures. Because the moon is lit by full sunlight, it is easy to photograph with short exposures just holding the camera to the telescope’s eyepiece.
If you have binoculars or a small telescope, now is a great time to observe the moon, and it might even be possible to pick out the landing sites of some of NASA’s Apollo moon missions.
The days on either side of the moon’s so-called first quarter are the best times to view our planet’s natural satellite, and you don’t even need fancy equipment for some stunning sights.
At first quarter the moon is lit by the sun coming from the east. The sun is rising right along the terminator, which is the dividing line between sunlight and the dark of the lunar night.
The map of moon’s surface here lists likely targets for spotting famous moon craters or two Apollo lunar landing sites: Apollo 11 and Apollo 15.
Since the moon has no atmosphere, there is no twilight zone, no gradual transition between dark and light. The topography along the terminator is painted in stark contrasts of brilliant white and coal black.
Spotting craters on the moon
It helps to get your bearings from some of the prominent craters visible on the moon’s surface, the scars of impacts of asteroids that slammed into the moon billions of years ago.
Aristoteles is a large crater located near the moon’s north pole. Named for the Greek philosopher and scientist who lived in the fourth century BCE, it stretches 54 miles (87 km) across. Aristoteles is a complex crater with terraced walls.
Theophilus is a spectacular crater near the center of the moon’s disk. Theophilus was the bishop of Alexandria and died in 412 AD. This crater is 62 miles (100 km) wide. The crater’s walls rise 3,940 feet (1200 m) above the surrounding terrain and its floor, complete with a large central peak, lies 14,400 feet (4400 m) below its rim.
Maurolycus is an even larger crater, 71 miles (114 km) across and 15,500 feet (4730 m) deep. It is named after Francesco Maurolico, an obscure 16th century opponent of Copernicus and his heliocentric theory that the Earth revolves around a stationary sun at the center of the solar system.
A striking feature of Maurolycus is that it appears to have hit and almost completely overlapped a slightly older crater. Theophilus and Maurolycus both have prominent central peaks, but Aristoteles has only a couple of small isolated peaks on its floor.
Using these craters as landmarks, it becomes possible to pinpoint and examine a couple of the Apollo landing sites.
Where Did The Moon Come From?
(Video) How did the moon form? According to the “giant impact” theory, the young Earth had no moon. At some point in Earth’s early history, a rogue planet, larger than Mars, struck the Earth in a great, glancing blow. Instantly, most of the rogue body and a sizable chunk of Earth were vapourized.
The cloud rose to above 13,700 miles (22,000 kilometers) altitude, where it condensed into innumerable solid particles that orbited the Earth as they aggregated into ever larger moonlets, which eventually combined to form the moon.
Footsteps on the moon
The first Apollo landing on July 20, 1969 took place in the open flats of the Mare Tranquillitatis, just north of Theophilus. This location was chosen precisely because it was so flat, as the planners of the lunar mission wanted the first landing to be as easy as possible.
Even so, Neil Armstrong realized that they were headed for a rough area and took over manual control of the lunar lander to put it down on a smoother area, almost running out of fuel in the process.
Today there are three small craters just north of the Apollo 11 landing site named for the three first Apollo astronauts. Armstrong, at 2.9 miles (4.6 km) is the largest of the three. Aldrin is 2.1 miles (3.4 km) in diameter, and Collins is only 1.5 miles (2.4 km) large.
These small craters are a challenge to spot using small amateur telescopes but represent a great rarity: lunar craters named after living people. In most cases, you need to be dead to have a crater named after you.
Two years later, on July 30 1971, Apollo 15 touched down in a much more mountainous area to the northwest of the Apollo 11 landing site. The Apollo 15 site was located in a small valley just west of Mount Hadley, where a rugged mountain range, called the Lunar Apennines, forms a wedge between the Mare Serenitatis and the Mare Imbrium.
A long, narrow groove meanders across this valley, the Rima Hadley, and the astronauts explored this feature on the ground. If you have a fairly large telescope, at least 8 inches aperture, and lighting conditions are just right, you can get a “bird’s eye” view of this surface feature yourself.
If you explore the Apollo landing sites with a small telescope, you won’t be able to see any of the objects left behind by the astronauts, as they are all too small to be resolved by even the largest telescopes. In fact, it’s only in the last few years that we’ve been able to photograph the landing sites in detail from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Source: Space.Com
Buying land on the moon
Though several flags of the United States have been symbolically planted on the moon, the U.S. government makes no claim to any part of the Moon’s surface. The U.S. is party to the Outer Space Treaty, which places the Moon under the same jurisdiction as international waters.
This treaty also restricts use of the Moon to peaceful purposes, explicitly banning weapons of mass destruction (including nuclear weapons) and military installations of any kind.
A second treaty, the Moon Treaty, was proposed to restrict the exploitation of the Moon’s resources by any single nation, but it has not been signed by any of the space-faring nations.Several individuals have made claims to the Moon in whole or in part, though none of these claims are generally considered credible.