Full Moon is only a few days away but don’t let it stop you doing astronomy. Yes it’s very bright and blots out most of the fainter objects in the sky, but it has a beauty and interest all of its own.
This month full Moon falls on August 26th (12:58 BST to be exact) so it’s midday on the Moon and there are very few shadows. Although the shadows that other phases provide can pick out details with more clarity, some Lunar features are best seen when the Moon is full. Here are a few examples of the things you should look for:
The 2 main ray craters are Copernicus and Tycho. The rays are the ejecta from the impacts that caused those craters. Generally ray craters are relatively young as the ejected material overlays the rest of the terrain. Smaller Kepler, close to Copernicus, also shows up well.
Some features appear very bright under this illumination such as the craters Aristarchus and Proclus. Aristarchus is the brightest of the larger Lunar features with an albedo (a measure of its reflectivity) twice that of most other features. Proclus has interesting oblique, asymmetrical impact rays – the ejecta only seems to be to one side of the crater.
All the Lunar seas are well shown at full Moon. Pick out as many as you can, even with binoculars. There are “lakes” (lacus) and “bays” (sinus) to find too.
These are just a few features but there are many more. Virtual Moon Atlas Pro is an excellent piece of free software that shows a huge amount of detail on all Lunar features. Recommended!
Article and Image credit: Mark Phillips