The Allure of the Moon

Thou silver deity of secret night,
Direct my footsteps through the woodland shade;
Thou conscious witness of unknown delight,
The Lover’s guardian, and the Muse’s aid!

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689 – 1762), ‘Hymn to the Moon’

Where would we be without the Moon? It has served as a light source, timekeeper, navigation tool, inspiration for poets, a nearby neighbor to draw us off the planet, and most importantly, it stabilizes our orbital tilt to allow life to flourish on the Earth.

The latest benefit we’ve derived from our weatherless and stable friend is understanding how often space rocks, big and small, cross our orbital path. Recently, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter photos, which covers 6.6% of the lunar surface, revealed 222 new small craters (2- to 43-meters diameter) created over a period of 7 years1. More ominous, according to a University of Toronto study, “The production rate of large lunar craters (more than 10 kilometers in diameter) increased by a factor of two to three in the past ~300 million years.”2 This is the time-frame of the Cretaceous-Paleogene mass extinction that eliminated T. Rex and friends.

We dedicate this week’s blog to the study of our life-long friend, the Moon, as seen from the surface of the Earth.

Full Moon

Harvest Moon 2021 by AstroBin user Funkonaut. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Image taken through Tele Vue-85 APO refractor (mobile site) with Tele Vue TRF-2008 0.8x (mobile site) Focal Reducer/Flattener (480 mm effective focal length) through Optolong Luminance 36mm filter using QHYCCD QHY268M-PH camera. Guided on Celestron AVX mount. Software: Celestron CPWI, RegiStax 6, Pixelmator Pro, and AS!3. Taken Sept. 21, 2021 from Mission Viejo, CA.

This image is of a waning Moon, after being full the day before. At the bottom right of the lunar disc is the famous rayed crater Tyco. Depending on the lighting, you can trace some of these rays far across the visible surface of the Moon. Due to their brightness, the impact was believed to have taken place just 108 million years ago. The dark areas of the moon are the iron-rich maria (Latin for sea). These are lava plains created by volcanic activity due to asteroid impacts on the far side of the Moon. The bright areas are the lunar highlands and mountains formed by asteroid impact debris.


Montes Appenninus

2022 02 09 18h 59′ 37 sec CET Moon – Montes Appenninus, Archimedes, Autolycus, Aristillus Crater by flickr user Carlo Casoli. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Imaged with Tele Vue 5x Powermate (mobile site) which gave the TEC140 APO scope an effective focal length of 4900 mm for close-up imaging with a ZWO ASI174MM camera. iOptron CEM70G mount with iOptron Tri-Pier for tracking. Software used was FireCapture, AutoStakkert3, and Adobe Photoshop. Imaged from Casalecchio di Reno – Italia.

Montes Appenninus is the dramatic 3.9 billion-year-old mountain range running through the center of the image with the shadowed crater Eratosthenes anchoring the left side of the range. These mountains form the border of Mare Imbrium on the upper left, Mare Vaporum on the bottom-left, and Mare Serenitatis on the lower right. The largest of the trio of craters at the top-right is Archimedes (81 km) showing a flat lava interior. The next largest is Aristillus showing multiple central peaks and the smallest is Autolycus.


Apollo 15 Landing Site

Apollo 15 landing site (crop) adopted from Carlo Casoli ‘2022 02 09 18h 59’ 37 sec CET Moon – Montes Appenninus, Archimedes, Autolycus, Aristillus Crater” image on flickr. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

The Montes Appenninus image also contains a historic landing site. If you follow the smooth lava plain that borders Archimedes to where it meets Montes Appenninus, you’ll see the squiggle of Hadley Rille bisected by a small crater named Hadley C. Apollo 15 landed on the far right side of Hadley Rille as seen from the perspective of the image.


Archimedes to Aristoteles

2022 02 09 19h 01′ 06 sec CET Moon – Montes Alpes, Archimedes, Autolycus, Aristillus Crater by flickr user Carlo Casoli. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Imaged with Tele Vue 5x Powermate (mobile site) which gave the TEC140 APO scope an effective focal length of 4900 mm for close-up imaging with a ZWO ASI174MM camera. IOptron CEM70G mount with iOptron Tri-Pier for tracking. Software used was FireCapture, AutoStakkert!3, and Adobe Photoshop. Imaged from Casalecchio di Reno – Italia.

This image continues where the above images leave off. Archimedes, Aristillus, and Autolycus are at lower left on this frame. On the extreme opposite side are two large craters Aristoteles (the larger at 87 km) and Eudoxus. Between these sets of craters, is the thin ring of the weathered crater Cassini that encloses two smaller craters. The mountain range at the bottom, below Cassini, is the Montes Caucasus range. The mountains above Cassini are the Montes Alpes. Toward the top-right of center is a cut that runs across Alpes range. This is the famous Vallis Alpes.


Lunar Mosiac

2022 02 09 18h 40′ 32 sec CET Moon by flickr user Carlo Casoli. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Imaged with Tele Vue 4x Powermate (mobile site) which gave the TEC140 APO scope an effective focal length of 3920 mm for close-up imaging with a ZWO ASI174MM camera. iOptron CEM70G mount with iOptron Tri-Pier for tracking. Software used was FireCapture, AutoStakkert!3, and Adobe Photoshop. Imaged from Casalecchio di Reno – Italia.

This image is a mosaic of the lunar surface. The region in the central part was explored in the prior two photos, with Montes Appenninus, the major mountain range to the left of the center, and the Montes Alpes, with the cut of Vallis Alpes, to the right of center. To the left of Montes Appenninus is Mare Vaporium. The prominent crater Manilius is at the bottom of the image about a third of the way from the left edge. Near the bottom-left are craters Godin and Agrippa (the larger) with notable central peaks. Above Agrippa is crater Triesnecker in the lava plane of Sinus Medii next to Mare Vaporium. On the right of the Montes Alpes is Mare Frigoris and the northern highlands around the polar region.

Remaining Lunar Events for 2022

People react when Alex Gorosh shows them the Moon in a 12″ Dobsonian with a 13mm Ethos eyepiece.

Super and Micromoons
Due to the elliptical shape of the lunar orbit, the distance from the Earth to the Moon can vary by 50,200 km (31,200 mi). The term “Supermoon” describes a Full Moon that occurs near the Moon’s closest approach to Earth while “Micromoon” describes a Full Moon near the point furthest from the Earth. A Supermoon can be 14% bigger than a Micromoon. There is no agreed-upon definition of how close and far a Moon needs to be to qualify for any of these “Moon” titles. That said, August 12 will have the largest remaining Full Moon of the year and December 7 is the remaining smallest Full Moon of the year. They will differ by 38,900 km (24,200 mi) in distance from the Earth. This should be notable when comparing images taken of the Full Moon on those days with the same focal length lens.

Eclipses

Total Lunar Eclipse 2022 Nov 08 visibility.
Partial Solar Eclipse map for 2022 Oct 25.

November 8 will feature a total lunar eclipse centered on the Pacific Ocean. The total phase will be visible from eastern North America to Central America and northwestern South America. China, Japan, Eastern India, Southeast Asia, and areas down to Australia will also see totality. Totality will miss Scandinavia, Europe, the Arabian Peninsula, and Africa.

On October 25 the Moon will partially eclipse the Sun. You will need a solar filter to view this type of eclipse. The skies from the arctic to India and through much of Europe, the Middle East, and the northern part of Africa to the horn will darken. The deepest part of the eclipse will be in eastern Russia and Kazakhstan. They will see about 80% of the Sun covered.

Moon and Planet Pairings
The Moon will pose with all the bright planets and Uranus this month. Here is a table of when each planet is nearest the Moon for the month.

DateObjectSeparation and Moon Phase
12 August 2022Saturn<4° to Full Moon
15 August 2022Jupiter<2° to Waning Gibbous Moon
18 August 2022Uranus~½° to Waning Gibbous Moon
19 August 2022Mars<2¾° to 3rd Quarter Moon
25 August 2022Venus~4¼° to Waning Crescent Moon
29 August 2022Mercury~6½° to Waxing Crescent Moon
You can check the time of local moonrise / set online.

Plato to the Pole

Moon, North Pole and Plato, February 12, 2022 by flickr user Ennio Rainaldi. All rights reserved. Used by permission. A Tele Vue 2x Powermate (mobile site) was used to amplify a Takahashi Mewlon (Dall-Kirkham) 210 mm reflector to an effective focal length of 4830 mm. Outfitted with a Primalucelab Esatto 2″ focuser, imaging was done with a ZWO ASI174 mono Cooled camera through a 2-inch Optolong Red CCD filter. The tracking mount used was an iOptron CEM60. 345 images stacked from 1500 images shot at 147 frames per second on 12 Feb 2022 at 18:37 Local Time.

Mare Imbrium dominates the lower-left of the frame with lava-filled, major crater Plato (101 km) near the center. Vallis Alpes is toward the lower-right of Plato as it cuts through to Montes Alpes. The sea above Plato is Mare Frigoris with the northern highlands and the lunar north pole beyond. At the very top of frame is deeply shadowed crater Anaxagoras, with its young, high-albedo rim walls just catching enough light to be identifiable.


Crescent Moon

Young Moon with some awesome earthshine by Instagram user Jeremy Evans. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Imaged using a Tele Vue NP101is APO with Tele Vue 4x Powermate for an effective focal length of 2160 mm with Canon 5D Mark IV camera. Tracked on Losmandy mount. Taken June 30th, 2022 when Moon was 2.6 days old with 3.7% illumination.

We started out with the Moon just past full and we end with the Moon just past New. The allure of the crescent phase is the faintly glowing Earthshine — “the young moon in the old moon’s arms” near the horizon. Leonardo da Vinci was the first to explain, in the 16th century, that light reflecting off the Earth was illuminating the night-side of the Moon.

Tele Vue Refractors

Observing the Moon with any Tele Vue refractor is a striking sight! Whether you are using high power to study the smallest resolvable features, taking advantage of their rich-field capabilities for lunar-planetary conjunctions, or imaging the Moon, these versatile APO refractors cover all bases. Every Tele Vue refractor, from the Tele Vue-60 to the 5″ Tele Vue-NP127is, can give at least a 4° field with our low power eyepieces. With such rich-field capability, the scope are practically their own finder. Our unit-power StarBeam (mobile site) with flip-mirror is the perfect complement to easily aim the scope at the Moon or in the vicinity of the Messier object you are searching for.  

From the powder-coated tubes and anodized aluminum finishes to the silky-smooth, lash-free focuser, these scopes are rugged and easily transported to dark-sky locations by land, sea, or sky. Tele Vue telescopes are engineered and built to be your life-long observing companions; and someday, your kids’ as well.  All Tele Vue telescopes come with a 5-year Limited Warranty.

Partial Lunar Eclipse 11-19-2021 by Instagram user Jeremy Evans. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue NP101is APO doing lunar eclipse imaging on Losmandy mount. Taken 19 Nov 2021 from backyard.
Tele Vue NP101is on Losmandy Mount by Jeremy Evans. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Tele Vue NP101is APO with extension tube, Powermate, Powermate T-Ring Adapter and Canon DSLR on Losmandy mount.

There is something haunting in the light of the Moon. It has all the dispassionateness of a disembodied soul and something of its inconceivable mystery. 

Joseph Conrad (1857 – 1924)

Did you observe, sketch, or image with Tele Vue gear? We’ll like your social media post on that if you tag it #televue and the gear used. Example:

#televue #tv85 #ethos #moon

Do you want your Tele Vue images re-posted on Tele Vue Optics’ Social Media accounts? Use this hashtag for consideration:

#RPTVO

More Info

  • 1Witze, Alexandra. “Incoming! Space Rocks Strike the Moon More Than Expected.” Scientific America, 13 Oct. 2016, www.scientificamerican.com/article/incoming-space-rocks-strike-the-moon-more-than-expected.
  • 2Mazrouei, Sara. “What the moon’s craters reveal about the Earth’s history: U of T expert and lead author of new study.” University of Toronto, 18 Jan 2019, www.utoronto.ca/news/what-moon-s-craters-reveal-about-earth-s-history-u-t-expert-and-lead-author-new-study.
  • Tele Vue and the Moon Men from Philly! blog post.
  • Return to the Moon with Michel Deconinck blog post.
  • The Art of Sketching the Moon at the Eyepiece blog post.