Part 1: Observing Lunar Features

Lunar Observing

The Moon is an extremely important object in solar system astronomy. Its surface retains features that tell us about the early history of the solar system. When you look at the surface of the Moon with a telescope, you are looking at a landscape that has changed very little over the past 3 billion years.

We will use one physical map and two websites for this lab. The lunar map is theа‘’Lunar 100 Card’’. This has aаselectionаof 100 particularly interesting lunar features chosen by lunar scientist Charles A. Wood. The Lunar 100 Card can serve both as a Moon map as well as a finder chart to be used at the telescope.

There are two websites. The first is a general purpose Moon map, which will allow you to navigate the various maria andаterrae. It is an excellent Moon Map operation by the Arval Observatory in Venezuela.ааA particularly good aspect of this map is that it has links for many lunar surface features, such as maria, craters, mons, etc. The links connect you to images by the US Geological Survey (USGS).


The second website shows pictures of the Lunar 100 sites, describes what they are, and gives the lunar longitude and latitude (called selenographic longitude andаlatitude) . Ofаparticular importance, it also gives references to articles in Sky and Telescope which describes these features in some detail.

1. In the table provided in the lab book, research and describe what each lunar feature looks like, how it is formed (if applicable), and give an example of such a feature. Look at the background section for the links for helpful websites.


2. What moon phase is it tonight? What side of the moon is illuminated?

3. Pick two surface features for observing through the telescope using the Lunar 100 card and the list on the Arval Observatory website. Determine how large the surface features are from the Arval list.


Description of the Surface

Your group will be supplied with an 8-inch Celestron telescope to observe the moon. аThis telescope is the same as was used for the аIntroduction to Telescopesаlab. аSet up the telescope on the roof with a clear view of the moon, remembering to point the polar axis of the telescope north.

After assembling your telescope, observe the moon through the telescope or you can find an image of the moon here. а

4. What is the altitude and azimuth of the moon tonight?

5. What time will the moon be on the meridian?

6. Make a sketch of the lunar surface as you see it through the telescope. Be sure to identify the surface features from Question 3. Try to identify otherаnotableаsurface features as well.

7. Draw and label theаterminator and lunar north, south, east and west on your sketch.


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