The week of May 23-29 takes us from lunar Day 17 through Day 22. The beginning of the week is shortly after full Moon and the position of the terminator corresponds roughly to where it was on Day 3, only the Sun will be coming from the opposite direction. The advantage is that features will not be lost in the murk of the low altitude atmosphere and will stand out much more clearly, but you will have to wait until after midnight for the Moon to be high enough. This week we will highlight the craters Geminus and Burckhardt.
• Geminus: [NE/F15] Roughly 200 miles north of Mare Crisium you will find the moderately complex 55-mile crater Geminus. It has terraced walls and small central peaks. This will give you an indication of what to start looking for in the following days as craters become increasingly more complex.
• Burckhardt: [NE/F15] This is the crater with the “Mickey Mouse” ears. It is a remarkable exception to the rule that when one crater intrudes upon another, the younger crater (the intruder) is usually smaller. Burckhardt has landed smack in between two smaller but older craters, giving it the Mickey Mouse effect.
OF ADDITIONAL INTEREST ON LUNAR DAYS 17-22:
On Monday, the Moon, Saturn, and Mars will be in a more-or-less straight line, and because Mars reached opposition last night, it is the closest to the Earth it will be for the next two years. During the next few weeks it will have a prime viewing window, so take advantage of this opportunity.
For a great program to see what features are visible for any date and time, go to:
Several extremely valuable tools are provided on this page by Sky and Telescope. Click away on the ones that interest you.
Jupiter is well-positioned in Leo for evening observing through July, and on Monday the Great Red Spot will transit Jupiter’s central meridian at 10:45 PM EDT. On Tuesday the moon Europa will start to cross Jupiter’s face at 9:24 PM EDT. As you are observing it, consider that this is the most likely place we will find evidence of extra-terrestrial life in it’s vast 90-mile-deep oceans of liquid water (kept liquid by the eruption of many undersea volcanoes.)
It is highly recommended that you get a copy of Sky and Telescope’s Field Map of the Moon, the very finest Moon map available for use at the telescope. It is available for $10.95 at www.skyandtelescope.com and on Amazon. All features mentioned in this blog will be keyed to the grid on the Field Map and will look like this: Plato: [NW/D9]
Courtesy of Gray Photography of Corpus Christi, Texas
Lunar photos: NASA / USGS / BMDO / LROC / ASU / DLR / LOLA / Moon Globe. Used by permission