Earth and Moon

The observation of the moon

The observation of the moon

Observe the moon It is not difficult, since it is the closest astronomical body to Earth. With a small telescope or good binoculars, and a support base (a tripod, for example) you can see many details, unimaginable in the observation of any other body of the Solar System.

When the Moon begins its growing period, we can take advantage to observe outstanding details of its surface, especially in the Terminator, an area that delimits light and darkness. The lights and shadows that occur show the different selenographic accidents and indicate the depth of the craters and the height of the mountains.

When Galileo became the first human to see the Moon through the telescope, our knowledge about the Moon changed forever. It would never again be a mysterious object in the sky, but a brother world full of annular mountains and other formations.

Giovanni Riccioli in 1651 baptized the most prominent features with the names of famous astronomers; he called the great dark and smooth areas "seas" or "maria" (singular "mare"). Some of the names he used for the craters of the Moon were from people addressed in "Astronomers" Tycho (singular for the bright bands radiating from there), Ptolemy ("Ptolemaeus"), Copernicus, Kepler, Aristarchus, Hipparchus, Eratosthenes; Metón and Pythagoras are on the edge, near the north pole.

Later people who lived after the seventeenth century did the same with the remaining ones: Newton and Cavendish craters are on the southern edge of the visible disk, Goddard and Lagrange are also near the edge. Also, "Galilaei" is a small and little distinguished crater (due to the exile of Galileo?). However, since the Russians were the first to observe the hidden face of the Moon, an important crater there, it is named after Tsiolkovsky, who at the end of the 19th century sponsored the idea of ​​spaceflight.

The first object that the fan usually points to is the Moon. In the telescope it is possible to have eyepieces of short focal lengths to obtain enlargements of the surface, being a very bright object it is possible to use large magnifications. The main features to observe are the multiple impact craters (product of the clash of objects of different sizes against the lunar surface) and the large flat extensions called seas.

The best moment of observation is not the full moon, but the growing and dwindling rooms and in the days close to them. On the day of the full moon, the sun's rays reach the lunar surface perpendicularly, so that the surface formations do not produce shadows, however the previous and subsequent days the shadows are more pronounced (they are closer the closer find new moon day).

A large telescope is not necessary to perform quality lunar observations, for example, with a Newtonian reflector of 114 mm (4.5 inches) in diameter, marks on the surface of less than 10 km can be distinguished. By using Binoculars can be seen many surface features such as the seas and numerous impact craters. It is highly recommended, especially for those who use a telescope, to have detailed maps of the surface that help them identify craters and other areas.

When making an observation it is convenient to select a specific area, especially chosen according to the phase and position of the same. The most interesting area to observe is always that of the terminator (the division between the illuminated and the dark section, day and moon night). Once located you can make a pencil drawing and positive (not as in the case of other objects which are usually drawn in negative because it is more convenient) of that area. Surface features, impact craters, mountain ranges, etc. should be identified. The age of the Moon must be detailed at that time (the days, hours and minutes elapsed since the new Moon) and the magnification used.

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