A lot of amateur astronomers will complain about the Moon, saying that it is nothing but a bright nuisance getting in the way of Deep Sky observing. Maybe its just me, but with the Moon being Earth’s nearest celestial body, I’ll take an up close study of the lunar craters, mountains and complex shadows over viewing faint fuzzies any night.
The Moon is best viewed when it is at half Moon or less, because any more brightness can wash out fine details. Along with this, the most interesting part of the Moon to view is the terminator line where the shadow is cast on its surface. The falling shadows on mountains and craters gives it a near 3d appearance that really pops out. When viewing the Moon, pretty much any telescope regardless of size will need a nice moon filter. Mine is polarizing, meaning that I can twist it to provide various levels of light blocking, depending upon how bright the Moon is. As mentioned before, this will help to fight off the glare, revealing more fine detailed lunar features along with saving those of us with larger telescopes from getting a head ache (seriously, it can get really bright).
Instead of just quickly roaming over the Moon like a typical observing session. Tonight, I decided to do a detailed and preplanned search for a few locations. I started by hunting down the Apollo lunar landing sights that were visible. By jumping from mountain range to mountain range and crater to crater I was able to find the locations of Apollo’s 11, 15, 16 and 17. Really analyzing the surface of the Moon to find the exact locations of the lunar landings was very rewarding. Sadly, no detail of the crafts can come from my telescope, or any telescope for that matter, because of the limits of technology and the small size of the space crafts. In fact, the smallest craters on the Moon that I can just barely make out in Plato’s crater are 3km large, or ruffly the size of my hometown Clifton Forge.
Star Log: July 19, 2010