Moon sights and lunar phases

Moon viewing through a telescope

Moon is the best object for beginner observers and not only for them. Its close location to the Earth allows stargazers to use not too expensive telescopes and even binoculars. Moreover, you can see the biggest sights with the naked eye. Therefore, can you imagine that having a powerful telescope, you can see the famous base of astronauts and traces of their rovers on the Moon’s surface? The Moon viewing can open to you many surprising and even strange things, like these: (here will be the photos)

Lunar phases

8 moon phases
A month of the Moon continues 29 days. This time is needed the Moon to completely pass around the Earth. The phases of the Moon are different stages of its illumination with the Sun. Depending on the way the Sun shines our satellite, we can see it as a round, a half-round or a sickle. Here are lunar phases in order:

  1. New Moon, the satellite is invisible because of the location in the Sun`s shadow.
  2. Waxing Crescent. To 49% of the right side of the Moon is visible. You can see it since late morning to twilight.
  3. First Quarter. You can see the right half of the disc in the afternoon and early evening.
  4. Waxing Gibbous. From 50 to 99% of the right disc`s side is visible in the late afternoon and almost the whole night.
  5. Full moon. The whole Moon is visible all night, especially clear in Midnight.
  6. Waning Gibbous. From 99 to 50 percent of the left side, you can see almost the whole night to the early morning.
  7. Third (last) Quarter. 50 percent of the left side. This period the Moon has long picturesque shadows that you can observe late at night and in the morning.
  8. Waning Crescent. From 49 to 0.1% of the left side is visible from pre-dawn to early afternoon.

You may be surprised, but it is not a good idea to view the Moon when it`s full because of the low contrast of the details. But, when the best time to Moon view?

There are two best periods in lunar phases: the first quarter and the last quarter.

  • The first period begins on about the second day after a new Moon and lasts a week. You can also take a couple of days after the first quarter ended. This period is good for those who want to observe in the evening time.
  • The second period begins two days prior to the last quarter and continues to a new Moon. At the last quarter, you can see the Moon in the mornings, when the atmosphere is calm and clear, and the image is clear too.

Another point is the position of the Moon above the horizon. The higher – the better. When the satellite is high – then the less dense air blocks its light. Use a lunar calendar to find out, what time can you see the Moon.

Choose a telescope for a moon viewing

Telescope for the Moon
Well, now we are going to answer the question: what magnification do you need to see the Moon?
You know that you can see the largest signs with the naked eye so it would be exciting even with an 8x binocular. However, if you are going to be engaged in this business thoroughly, you better get a telescope with an aperture 150 mm or larger and 80x to 200x of magnification. For such models would allow you to catch curious details on the surface. So, what telescope is best for viewing the Moon?

With a beginner telescope up to 60 mm aperture and magnification up to 70x you can see the whole Moon, large, but without details. If increase magnification to 100x, you could see the objects up to 5 kilometers in size. For example, it could be seas and big craters.

Magnification up to 70x with an aperture 80 mm will allow you to see a detailing image. With increase up to 140x, you`ll be able to see the mountains and the objects 3 kilometers in diameter or more.

If you an owner of a 100-mm telescope, then you`ll have the luck to see the details clearly. With an increase up to 140x having such an aperture, you could see the small craters (2,5 km in diameter!). If you could raise over 150, then the moon valleys and the hills could be opened for you.

It could be a great wide-angled view with an aperture over 150 mm and up to 70x of magnification. Up to 140 x and holding this aperture, you can see the small craters` details more than 1,7 km. Over 150x your moon telescope can open the small hills and the valleys to you.

Having 250-mm aperture and up to 400x of magnification, you`ll be able to make out the objects 1 km in size. If 300-mm aperture, then you`ll see the objects larger than 0,8 km.

Craters on the Moon and the other Moon sights

Now, we are going to view the most known sights of the Moon. Here you can see the map of a Moon visible side, where blue, red and green colors designated the geographical features of the Moon surface. Blues are the seas, oceans, bays and other water. Red are the craters, and the green sights are the mountains, the valleys, and the swamps. There are only the most common objects so it will help you to introduce the Moon viewing the first time.

Craters on the Moon

The craters are definitely the most famous objects on the Moon. All its area is strewn with them. Moon craters come in different shapes. They are flat-floored, deep, with sharp sides or sloping sides, with central picks or without. Some craters are dotted, others are grouped.

Why are there craters on the Moon? Most of them were formed as a result of multiple blows of asteroids, comets, and meteorites. Others have a volcanic origin. The absence of atmosphere promoted their preservation in the original look. About 500 000 of them are more than 1 kilometer in diameter. At the present time, there are different Moon maps of craters that can open to you all of them.

The biggest moon crater is located on the reverse side and has about 4500 meters in deep and 570 kilometers in a circle; its name is Hertzsprung (1.37°N 128.66°W). The largest crater on the Moon doesn`t have any beams but has two well-visible rings. Its surface is covered by lava inside, and there is another curious fact about the crater: there is reduced gravitation.

There is also a Tycho moon crater, which is the most known crater on a visible side; it has 85 kilometers in diameter. It`s famous because of its large diverging rays, that are well visible even throw a binocular. Its coordinates are 43.31°S 11.36°W.

One of the brightest objects is Aristarchus crater, which is located on the north-west visible side and counts 40 km in diameter and 3.7 km in depth. You can reach it even with a low-power telescope, its coordinates are 23.7°N 47.4°W. The crater is relatively young – it was born 450 million years ago, so its ground is lighter than others are. Like Tycho, Aristarchus has well-marked rays. But this is not its main feature. Aristarchus gives the largest amount of so-called lunar transient phenomena: bluish and reddish radiance, change in brightness. Like most craters on the Moon, a name of this mysterious crater is derived from the famous astronomer. Aristarchus of Samos lived in ancient Greece and he was the first who offered a heliocentric model of the Solar System.

Moon mare (Lunar maria)

If you look on the map above, you`ll see multiple dark spots on the Moon surface. Looking on the satellite with a naked eye, you can also notice them. What are they? They are the largest moon features: the seas, or Moon maria on Latin. These spots were called seas by astronomers Grimaldi and Riccioli on their lunar map of the 1652 year. The researchers suggested that these are the Moon seas and given them romantic names. However, if they were the seas, then the seas of boiling lava, for that is how they were formed about 3 – 5 billion years ago. So that lunar maria are the lowlands filled basalt lava, there was never water. Lava has a darker shade than the lunar soil so that lava-filled areas look like spots on the Moon surface.

The largest Moon mare is the Oceanus Procellarum or Ocean of Storms. It settled on the west side and count 2500 kilometers in length. The famous spacecraft Apollo 12 landed on the plain of the Oceanus Procellarum in 1969.

Rocks on the Moon

Besides craters and lava seas there are also rocks on the Moon. It can be lonely peaks or long mountain ranges. On the map, you can see only four mountain sights. In reality, researchers counted about 30 peaks and 18 mountains. The largest mountain range is Cordillera, named after well-known mountain system on the west of America. Their length is 956 kilometers and they surround the Mare Orientale; you can find them on 17.5° S, 81.6° W.

The second by size among the rocks on the Moon is the Montes Apenninus on the North, near the Mare Imbrium. They stretch east for 600 kilometers to the Mare Serenitati. It`s the tallest mountain system on the moon for they tower over 5400 kilometers. As you can see, calling Moon mountains after the mountains on the Earth is the tradition. The coordinates of Apenninus are 18.9°N 3.7°W.

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