Gazing Upward, and Dreaming...
Because we're all space cadets, at heart.
|Our Previous Night Out|
|Date:||Friday April 4 2014|
|Conditions:||Partly Cloudy, 3 degrees|
The Crater Theophilus, at 28% Illumination
OK, you've probably seen this crescent-shaped object a few times, but not like this. The Moon is a spectacular sight in our telescope, unlike anything you can see with just your eyes. This evening we looked at the terminator region of the Moon's surface, the dividing line between darkness and daylight, where the sunlight is very low-angle, creating lots of shadows and highlights. The terminator is not as dramatic on the moon as it is on the earth, where it sweeps across our surface as fast as 1000 miles/hour; on the moon it's more like about 10 miles/hour. Here on earth, only jets and rockets can stay ahead of the terminator; on the moon, you could run ahead of it!
So what's interesting near the terminator? The crater Theophilus, of course!
Here's a close-up of crater Theophilus:
When the moon is 28% illuminated, like tonight, it's a perfect time to explore Theophilus, a major impact crater on the Moon's near side. The low-angle lighting makes their details jump right out at you. At almost 3 miles(!) deep, this is one massive crater. That central bright point is a mountain, rising nearly a mile from the crater floor, complete with four separate peaks. You've got to see this in a telescope, because these pictures don't do justice to what you actually see out on a dark night.