The Moon in Pictures and Video


The free photographs of the Moon in this pictures-newsletter were taken with just two ordinary digital cameras, i.e. not through a telescope: the first 12 pictures were shot using a standard 100 – 300mm zoom lens. From the 13th picture on I was using the remarkable Nikon Coolpix P900 bridge camera with its powerful built in zoom lens: most pictures were taken using the amazing full 83x optical zoom, equivalent to 2,000mm. This lens lets you photograph features not visible to the naked eye.

The Moon is the brightest object in the sky after the Sun, but it is far from unique even in our solar system: a moon is a natural satellite orbiting a planet and our seven planetary neighbours have at least 174 of them, Jupiter alone having 67 moons that we know about. Not surprisingly our Moon was the first one to be discovered, and got its name from the Indo-European word for ‘month’, which ancient observers realised was the unit of time connected with the moon.

Facts and Figures
The Moon is thought to have formed around 4.5 billion years ago from a coming together of dust caused by a collision between Earth and a large body now known as Theia, this impact occurring some 60 million years after the Solar System itself formed. The Moon is 384,400km (238,855 miles) from Earth on average, and has some surprising features in its relation to our world. For a start there is the fact that the Moon spins on its axis as it orbits Earth at a speed which keeps the same side facing us all the time: we never see the other side of the Moon except from a space craft. Secondly, the combination of the Moon’s size and distance from Earth makes it appear approximately the same size as the Sun, and results in the Moon being able to cover the Sun at intervals, causing an almost total eclipse. This already rare event will not continue for ever, because the Moon’s distance from our planet is gradually increasing.

The Moon has a radius of about 1737kms (1079 miles), which makes it only the fifth largest natural satellite in the Solar System, but the largest relative to the size of its planet. It is not made of cream cheese, as some traditional children’s stories would have you believe, but of a solid inner core containing iron, and a fluid outer core of liquid iron. The surface is a 50km thick (31 miles) crust formed from the crystallisation of an ocean of magma, thought to have happened soon after the Moon’s formation.

The Moon takes 27.321 days to complete its orbit round the earth – precisely the same length of time that it takes to complete one rotation, which is why we never see the ‘dark side’. Its velocity through space is 1.03 km per second. It is quite easy and safe to observe the Moon with the naked eye, through binoculars or a telescope, or even through a zoomed-in camera lens. When you do this you may become aware of a ‘face’ appearing, and what you see as ‘eyes’, are in fact dark craters in its crust.

The Moon Quiz: how much do you know about the Moon?? (Answers on the next screen)

1. How far is the Moon from the Earth on average in its orbit?
2. What is the difference between Moon and moon?
3. Does the Moon orbit the Earth? (Be careful.)
4. How many people have set foot on the Moon?
5. Does the Moon affect people’s behaviour on Earth?
6. Are shadows the same on the Moon as on Earth?
7. If we have ‘earthquakes’, does the Moon have ‘moonquakes’?
8. Has any human had their ashes scattered on the Moon?
9. The Russians named their manned Moon flight programme Luna. What did the Americans call theirs?
10. Which moon landing programme is still ongoing, the Russian or the American?

The Moon’s craters

The craters on the moon’s surface (visible in many of the photos after the first twelve) were made by collisions with asteroids or meteorites. NASA monitors collisions between the Moon and other bodies in space, and the largest they have logged hit the Moon at 90,000 km/h on 17 March 2013. Since it weighed 40 kg, it made a large new crater, yet to be named. Since 1651 the Moon’s craters have been named after dead scientists, but in 1970 six were named after living Russian astronauts and six American Astronauts. A lot of names are required, since craters make up 95% of the named topographical features on the Moon. Linked craters are therefore named after the primary crater nearby, and their satellites given an added capital letter, so ‘Copernicus B’ and ‘Albategnius C’. Early astronomers mistook some of these impact craters for seas so named them things like ‘Mare Humboldtianum and Mare Smythii (‘mare’ being Latin for ‘sea’), but the Russians were stretching things a bit in 1959 when they tried to name a newly discovered crater round the back of the Moon ‘Mare Moscoviense’.

There is a connection between the Moon and seas on Earth, however: when the Sun, the Moon and the Earth are in a line in space, which happens at a full Moon and a new Moon, the pull of the gravitational field caused by the Sun and the Moon is at its greatest, so we have higher high tides, and lower low tides, as the water on the surface of the Earth is pulled towards the Sun and Moon.

Quiz Answers
1. 384,400kms, or 238,855 miles.
2. ‘The Moon’ refers to our Moon that orbits the Earth (or does it – see next question); ‘moon’ with a lower case letter refers to any of the 174 moons in the solar system, or an unknown number in the universe.
3. Although moons are thought of as orbiting their planet, technically the Earth and the Moon orbit each other, moving round a point between them (trick question).
4. Only twelve male and no female astronauts have walked on the surface so far; none of them have done it more than once, and only seven were still alive in 2018. (Well their day was in the 1960s and 70s.)
5. Some people claim their sleep pattern is affected by the phases of the moon. It was thought that ‘lunatics’ exhibited more mad behaviour at the time of a full Moon.
6. No, apparently. NASA astronauts report that shadows are darker on the Moon.
7. Yes: the Moon has tremors up to 5.5 on the Richter Scale.
8. Yes: former NASA scientist Eugene Shoemaker was able to arrange to get his ashes scattered up there.
9. Apollo. The last US manned flight to the Moon was Apollo 17.
10. Russia recently announced plans to put a man on the moon by 2030, 60 years after Apollo 11.

And finally….. how to remember whether the Moon in the sky is heading for a ‘full Moon’ or has already been full this month and is now declining (called ‘waning’ in English): look at the shape of the light part of the Moon, and remember “When the Dog comes in the Cat goes out”. If the Moon looks like a capital D (as in pictures 20 and 24) it is heading for full; if it looks like a C (as in pictures 2 and 6) it is an ‘old Moon’ and is on its way out.

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evening moon-1q3cf.jpg (61038 Byte)  tree-moon-j8i.jpg (90614 Byte)  moon-34s8.jpg (144880 Byte)
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 Moon Moon Crater  Moon Craters Craters, Moon
Moon, Shadow, Craters Moon Photography Craters Moon Crater Moon, Craters
Moon tele lens 2000 mm Aristoteles, Eudoxus, Moon Crater Craters of the moon New Moon
Full Moon, Cloud Moon with Nikon P900 Moon, Craters Mares Craters, Moon
New Moon Moon Craters Full moon Full Moon, Craters
Moon, 2000 mm Nikon P900 Moon Moon craters Craters of the Moon

  Video: 2000mm Craters of the Moon and Rotation of the Earth