Brian's Notebook

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A DIY map of the moon
I took this photo of the moon a few days ago, simply using the camera's 10x zoom to get a bit closer (click on the pictures to see larger versions in a new window):

I was looking towards the east, thus north was to my left, and therefore the moon's north is also to the left on the photo.

So let us rotate it a bit, in order to get north at the top, as we are used to in maps:

Of course, with astronomical objects it doesn't really matter much which way is up, and one can do whatever is convenient. Because many astronomical telescopes turn images upside down, it is not unusual to see maps of the moon with south at the top.

I have marked some of the major features of the moon:

When the moon is full or nearly full, as in the photo, most of the mountains and craters are difficult to see because the sun is illuminating them from above so they don't cast long shadows. Thus the moon is at its most spectacular when it is closer to half. On the full moon, however, one can clearly see all the lunar "seas" (so named by Galileo because he thought they might be oceans; they are in fact ancient lava flows.) The Latin word for sea is mare (pronounced "MAH-ray") and the plural is maria, and one often sees these terms used instead of "seas." Most of these are visible to the naked eye, and all can be seen easily with binoculars (with which one can also see quite a large number of the lunar craters, of which I only indicated two.)

Here is a list of the features I marked in the photo:

1. Mare Frigoris (Sea of Cold)
2. Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains)
3. Mare Serenitatis (Sea of Serenity)
4. Mare Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquility) (This is where Neil and Buzz took their walk on the moon!)
5. Mare Crisium (Sea of Crises)
6. Mare Nectaris (Sea of Nectar)
7. Mare Foecunditatis (Sea of Fertility)
8. Mare Vaporum (Sea of Vapors)
9. Copernicus (crater)
10. Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms)
11. Mare Humorum (Sea of Moisture)
12. Mare Nubium (Sea of Clouds)
13. Tycho (crater)

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Fun stuff! I never seem to get images of the moon that are as sharp as yours!

-Mark Junge the Goodart Guy

Well, I must have taken dozens of photos of the moon before I got this reasonably decent one. Most were nothing more than blurs. ;-)

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