Tue 12/30: A miraculous moon

by Marek Cichanski

Okay, I admit it, it's a little hokey to post an OR based on half an hour of impromptu moon observing, but I just couldn't resist. Finally, some clear sky!

I looked out the window around 16:45 and couldn't believe I was seeing blue sky. I threw a 5" f/15 MCT onto a mount and took a look at the moon. I mostly used a 16mm type 6 Nagler.

Seeing came and went, and often had a "watery" quality, but it was mostly lower-frequency stuff. Waving, but not so much blurring. Sharp detail could be seen, it just moved around. There were some nice still, sharp moments, too.

The last time I looked at the moon, I saw Mare Orientale. This time, the other limb was librated towards us. So, Mare Marginis, Mare Smythii, and Mare Australe were visible. Neat.

Mons Piton was right on the terminator, and looked extremely bright. It looked like a snow- or glacier-clad mountain, like Shasta or Rainier. Matter of fact, I'm a little surprised that the early telescopic observers didn't mistake this bright appearance at sunrise for an accumulation of nighttime frost on the high peak. It would appear to "melt off" as the sun rose higher. (I guess they didn't get fooled because they would have seen a similar 'lightening' as the sun set on a mountain like this...)

The Imbrium ejecta at the north side of Serenitatis and the northwest side of Imbrium looks marvelous in this illumination. It has a very hummocky, "pebbly" appearance, like that spray-on ceiling material so common in 1960s houses. Man, that must be some rugged terrain up close! It's not a mountain range, it's more like a huge plain of boulders.

Vallis Alpes looked nice, floor was mostly in shadow.

The asymmetric rays from Proclus, forming the Palus Somnii, are well seen at this illumination, too. Oddly enough, there was something slightly similar around the crater Thales. It had two 'rays' extending from it, although I don't think these were actual rays of ejecta. They looked like low, straight, highly degraded scarps. Terrain features rather than albedo features. This is worth looking into some more...

There was a wonderful palimpsest of mostly-flooded craters north of Mare Frigoris.

That's most of what stood out. I didn't bother with a notebook or Rukl, just made some mental notes and then came in and looked this stuff up on Virtual Moon Atlas.

Man, it was nice to finally observe something! I felt like a first-timer at a public star party. Gosh, Mom, look at all those craters! I hope that everyone else was able to get out and do some backyard observing tonight, too. Time to go bake myself a pizza...yum...