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Moon Doings
updated: Jan 21, 2013, 10:20 AM

By Chuck McPartlin

On Monday evening, the Moon will be very close to the planet Jupiter, so go out and take a look!

The Moon was bright on Sunday night, so I took some shots of craters and Tranquillity Base. The large dark areas on the Moon were thought to be oceans and seas in ancient times, but are now known to be large frozen pools of basaltic lava that oozed up and filled in very large impact craters from the Moon's younger days, when it had a molten core.

At a diameter of only about 2160 miles, the Moon is much smaller than Earth. You could put about 50 Moons into a hollow Earth. With its smaller mass, the Moon also has less gravity at its surface - only about a sixth of what you feel at home. That lesser gravity means you can dig really deep holes before the rock slumps, which is why some of the following crater depths sound pretty impressive.

The first image is of the area where the first manned lunar landing occurred in July of 1969. There is a feature just left of the center of the Apollo 11 image that looks like a fish jumping up to grab a small cookie. The cookie is the crater named Moltke, about 4 miles across and 4265 feet deep. Apollo 11 landed just up and left from Moltke. The large darker area is Mare Tranquillitatis, the Sea of Tranquillity.

In the second image, the largest crater along the terminator, at lower left, is Clavius, about 140 miles across and 11483 feet deep. The prominent crater with the mountain in the middle above Clavius is Tycho, about 54 miles across and 15748 feet deep. The central peak is just under a mile high. It's a young crater, and is the one with the spray of bright debris that looks like a navel at Full Moon.

The crater on the terminator in the third image is Copernicus, another young crater about 58 miles across and 12467 feet deep. Above and right from it is Eratosthenes, at the end of the Apennine Mountain chain. Eratosthenes is about 36 miles across and 11811 feet deep.

Everything you ever wanted to know about observing the Moon: http://www.shallowsky.com/moon/

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