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Moon peek-a-boo!

Late last month, on a rare clear night, I managed to take some images of the Moon through my trusty 4.5″ reflector. I posted them here, some of you might recall. You might also recall that I was very chuffed about them because they showed the craters along the terminator so clearly, as, somehow, I’d managed to get the focus just right and had held the camera just steady enough to get a decent pic…

Well, it turns out I did more than just get those craters in focus… 🙂

Tedstryk, one of my fellow unmannedspaceflight.com members, emailed me to point out that I’d also managed to image some features on the Moon that are usually hidden from our view. How is this possible? Well, the Moon wobbles to the left and to the right regularly, just a little, but enough to occasionally bring into view features that are usually hidden beyond the limb of the Moon. This is called “libration”, and Moon observers look forward to certain times of the year when they will be able to effectively “look around the corner” of the Moon and see seas, craters and other features that are, for the rest of the time, out of sight.

… and it turns out that on the night of June 28th, when I was taking my pictures, several small and lesser known lunar seas were putting in an appearance on the Moon’s face, close to the eastern limb… 🙂

It is a lot clearer if you look at the image below (click on it to bring up a full size version, as usual.) On the left, the pic I took on June 28th. On the right, an image taken on a different date. Look closely at the one on the left and you’ll see several small, dark patches close to the edge that aren’t visible on the other image. That’s because they’ve been briefly swung into view by libration…

libration jpg

Thanks for pointing that out Ted… I wish I’d paid more attention at the time now! Just goes to show you that there’s always something new to see “up there”… 🙂

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3 Responses

  1. Libration also allows to take Moon stereo pair pictures and view it’s features in 3D!

  2. It really is neat to see the changing angles. It gives us a little taste of what is so close and yet so far away.

  3. […] At Astropoetry, Stu poetically ponders whether his memories of Apollo?… are real or the idylls of an infant’s slumber. I’ll note that I was half Stu’s age when it happened so I really have no memory of the event. Stu also takes Cumbrian Sky to the edge of the Moon for some serendipitous Lunar photography in Moon peek-a-boo! […]

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