Archive for the ‘Lunar 100’ Category

6:41 AM CDT April 3, 2013 (11:41 UT), 8″ reflector telescope with 25mm eyepiece.

The splendid crater Copernicus is Number 5 in Charles A. Woods’ Lunar 100 and can be easily seen in the photo above, and even more prominently in the upper center of this closeup from October 19, 2011, at 7:49 AM CDT (12:49 UT):
8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece, 2x Barlow.

It is a favorable time to view Saturn, as it is approaching opposition on April 28, at which time it will make its closest approach to Earth for this year. Here’s an update:

0403030556saturn17mm2xb 5:56 AM CDT April 3, 2013 (10:56 UT)
Angular diameter 18.57 arc seconds
Distance from Earth 828,198,000 miles (1,332,855,000 km)
0221030645asaturn17mm2xb200 6:45 AM CST February 21, 2013 (12:45 UT)
Angular diameter 17.60 arc seconds
Distance from Earth 873,809,000 miles (1,406,259,000 km)
7:01 AM CST November 20, 2012 (13:01 UT)
Angular diameter 15.49 arc seconds
Distance from Earth 992,918,000 miles (1,598,000,000 km)
11:42 PM CDT June 7, 2012 (04:42 UT June 8, 2012)
Angular diameter 18.15 arc seconds
Distance from Earth 847,415,000 miles (1,363,782,000 km)
4:38 AM CDT April 12, 2012 (09:38 UT)
Angular diameter 18.97 arc seconds
Distance from Earth 810,707,000 miles (1,304,706,000 km)
6:13 AM CST January 8, 2012 (12:13 UT)
Angular diameter 16.82 arc seconds
Distance from Earth 913,348,000 miles (1,471,501,000 km)
25mm eyepiece with 2x Barlow, scaled to match the others
3:23 AM CDT April 14, 2011 (08:23 UT)
Angular diameter 18.97 arc seconds
Distance from Earth 810,570,000 miles (1,304,487,000 km)

Last but not least, I’m happy to report that on Sunday evening I made a clear sighting of Comet Pan-STARRS, which this week is passing right by the Andromeda Galaxy, so don’t miss it, because it’s one of the best times available to use a major astronomical “landmark” to find the comet! I don’t expect to post any pictures, as the comet is too faint for my modest photo equipment. but Nathan P. Hoffman succeeded in capturing it here, and a great place to watch for the latest amateur photos is www.spaceweather.com/.

Almost forgot – my photos are taken with an LG VX8360 cell phone camera, as usual. Gotta love the internet … a guy with no money can aim his pocket camera into a weathered old telescope and turn it into an astronomy site …

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Hello, folks, I’m happy to report that I still live on this planet!
The Moon hangs peacefully in the southern sky this beautiful clear morning. 7:40 AM CDT (12:40 UT) April 2, 2013, 60mm refractor, 25mm eyepiece.

I’m now resuming my post series on Charles Woods’ “Lunar 100”. Number 4 on the list is the Lunar Apennine Mountains, or Montes Apenninus, which figure prominently in the lower central part of this photo, which I took on July 10, 2012, at 5:14 AM CDT (10:14 UT):
8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece, 2x Barlow. Both with LG VX8360 cell phone camera.

Towards the north end of the Apennine range is Mons Hadley, notable because an adjacent valley was the Apollo 15 lunar landing site.

Happy Easter, and blessings to those who have recently celebrated Passover! This is what Easter is all about:

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I’m blogging through Charles A. Wood’s The Lunar 100.

Above: The north central part of the Moon photographed at 5:41 AM CST November 17, 2011 (11:41 UT). 8″ reflector telescope with 17mm eyepiece, 2x Barlow, LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click to enlarge.

Almost everyone has seen the contrast between the darker and lighter portions of the Moon’s face. In our culture we see the “Man in the Moon,” and the human imagination has seen many other pictures and patterns in the Moon – the technical term for this is Lunar pareidolia.

In the photo above it’s evident that the high, mountainous terrain on the Moon tends to be lighter in color than the lower, smoother portions. These darker, smooth plains are called maria, which isn’t the name Maria, but rather is plural for mare (pronounced “mar-eh”), the Latin word for sea. Early modern astronomers using the first telescopes mistook these flat plains for actual seas, hence the name. The lunar maria are broad plains of lava which has long since cooled down, and are darker because of their iron-rich composition.

So the lunar maria aren’t true seas, but we now know of an actual sea on a different moon, Saturn’s largest Moon Titan, home of a sea of liquid hydrocarbons called Kraken Mare, possibly about the same size as Earth’s Caspian Sea.

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I’m blogging through Charles A. Wood’s The Lunar 100.

Earthshine can be seen shortly before and after the New Moon, when the Moon is in a thin crescent phase. It results from sunlight reflecting off the Earth and illuminating the mostly-dark near side of the Moon, and then returning back to Earth. Here are two examples:
Above: 8:13 PM CDT March 24, 2012 (01:13 UT March 25, 2012), the waxing crescent Moon shortly after sunset.
Below: Via the NASA/JPL Solar System Simulator, which is a really cool utility, here’s what the Earth looked like from the Moon at the time of the photo above:
Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

As viewed from the Moon, the Earth always displays the opposite phase as the Moon viewed from the Earth. Thus, you can see above that the Earth was mostly light, in the waning gibbous phase, just as the Moon was mostly dark as viewed from Earth. My home in North America is in the darkened area to the upper right, corresponding to the bright crescent illumination along the Moon’s right limb. This also shows how the brightness of the mostly-illuminated Earth contributes to Earthshine, since lots of earthlight is shining on the Moon!

The next New Moon is on December 13, 2012, so if you hope to see earthshine this month you’re most likely to see it about two or three days before and after that date. Before New Moon, look for the thin crescent Moon in the East before sunrise. After New Moon, look for the thin crescent Moon in the West after sunset.

Below: The waning crescent Moon at 6:23 AM CDT, September 13, 2012 (11:23 UT).
8″ reflector telescope, 25mm eyepiece, LG VX8360 cell phone camera. Click to enlarge.

Below, a view of the Earth as it would have appeared at the time of the photo directly above.
Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

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I’m embarking upon a new astroblogging project of illustrating Charles A. Wood’s Lunar 100 list, which may be found at this link at skyandtelescope.com:

The Lunar 100, by Charles A. Wood

Mr. Wood says:

The Lunar 100 list is an attempt to provide Moon lovers with something akin to what deep-sky observers enjoy with the Messier catalog: a selection of telescopic sights to ignite interest and enhance understanding. Presented here is a selection of the Moon’s 100 most interesting regions, craters, basins, mountains, rilles, and domes. I challenge observers to find and observe them all and, more important, to consider what each feature tells us about lunar and Earth history.

It looks like an interesting challenge, and one that can keep me going with astroblogging even on cloudy days like today! Number One on the list is simply the Moon itself, and here’s a re-posting of one of my favorite photos, of the waning gibbous Moon, just past full, getting ready to set last February:

7:31 AM CST February 9, 2012 (13:31 UT), 60mm refractor telescope and 25mm eyepiece. Click for larger view.

There’s a story to tell with this photo: I think I popped awake at about 7:20 AM, and when I peeked out the door, I saw that a beautiful Moon scene was taking shape. But then I heard our dog Pluto (now of blessed memory) jingle his collar, and I realized that I just couldn’t sneak out to the big telescope without attending to Pluto’s needs! But the Moon was setting within minutes, so I put Pluto on his deck chain, pulled out the small refractor, and snapped a few photos on the fly before taking Pluto for his walk. This photo is the best from that morning; the golden hue at moonset comes from the Moon’s light (reflected sunlight, of course) travelling through hundreds of miles of the Earth’s atmosphere.

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