Observing Report – 09.05.2004

When I got started, I figured the moon would be interesting to check out from time to time, but my main interest lay in DSOs, planets and comets. So the past week of bright moonlight was getting irritating. Reading some comments in the DSO and Lunar forums got me to thinking about making lemonade from the blinding lemons. And you know something? The moon is actually exerting a certain pull on me.
Thursday night, I was outside battling the wind and getting excited about the setting circles actually working for me. (I dead-centered on Uranus without star-hopping, so I was convinced.) And the moon just kept rising higher and higher, and I couldn’t resolve for squat with naked-eye observation any more, so I thought “Okay. Let’s get it on.” And I aimed for the perpetrator. As I was checking it out, I got to wondering about the identity of a close arrangement of 3 prominent craters that popped out at me the first time I looked last week (turned out to be Theophilus, Cyrillus & Catharina).
I had been testing out photography on star clusters, so I hooked the camera back up and started trying to get a decent series of images. Because my scope won’t focus when set up for prime focus, and since my lowest power eyepiece is 25 mm, I can’t fit the entire moon in one shot. So I grabbed frames of different portions of the disc for assembly later. And here’s where it got fun (for me).
As I was sorting out the best images and merging them the next evening, I noticed I was getting drawn into trying to figure out what the various features were. So I pulled up a couple online moon atlases, and started a little (big?) labeling project on the tiled image, to see if I could teach myself something. Learning the names of some of these features turned out to be pretty entertaining. I’m running along looking up Plato, Copernicus, Ptolemaeus, Atlas, Hercules, and Archimedes…and then suddenly I run into Walter, Davy and Billy. Heh. You know, that’s kind of funny in my little world. I particularly like Playfair. I guess that would be a great place for recreational structures when the lunar colonies get up & running.
So matching up the names to what I was seeing in my images was pretty exciting, and now I have something to look forward to the next time the moon is focusing its guard tower light on me.
In case you want to check it out, I’ve got a pdf of the labeling project here (450 K). And the unlabeled image here (430 K).
The limb regions near Mare Frigoris and Curtius Crater are too blurry for my taste. So I think the next time I do it I’ll need to stitch from 7 or 8 images. Gotta have goals, ya see.