Monday 22 April 2013

Observing The Moon with Binoculars

Just summarising a couple of nights of bonocular astronomy for you, where I decided for once that the presence of a day 8 and day 9 moon was not going to put me off getting outside with the 10x50s and seeing what I could see.

The moon was at an easy altitude, so I decided to have a good look at our nearest neighbour for a change. For me, with very unsteady hands, I've always been put off by lunar observing with my binoculars, but these nights I decided to (rather awkwardly) jam my elbows onto my chest and rest my arms in this fashion - this enabled me to have a few half decent views.

The moon's surface is packed with detail, and rewards patience. The most prominent features are located on what is known as the terminator, the cut off point between the luminated and unluminted parts of the moon - essentially when the moon is waxing, the terminator line indicates where the sun is rising on the lunar surface. At these locations, the sun casts the longest shadows so craters and mountains are easiest to see.

The feature that grabbed my attention the most with a crater actually still in the dark, but who's crater wall was illuminated like a sort of glowing eyelid in the night. Research indicates that this was possibly the crater Eratosthenes. The dark floor of the crater Plato was visible in the far north, and in the far south the giant crater Clavius, 140 miles across, was plainly visible too.

By now, my arms were like jelly, so I took in what sights the deep sky could offer me despite the moon. Messier 3 was visible with some difficulty, rather easier being further from the moon were the other globular clusters Messier 13 and my first view of the season for Messier 5 in Serpens Cauda. Identifying La Superba is still beyond me, but Messier 39 in Cygnus was just about distinguishable.

A rewarding couple of short sessions! The night sky is so beautiful, and unlike the love of Jennifer Lopez, it's love doesn't cost a thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment