The Moon is only about 239,000 miles away. From Earth we only see one side at all times. There are four main phases of the Moon that we observe. These are the first quarter, the full phase, the last quarter and the new phase. The Moon goes through these cycles every 29.5 days. To see the photos in a larger format click on any image. To return to the home page please click on the word VISIONINTIME at the upper left part of the screen.
This quarter phase Moon was taken with a 300mm lens mounted to the telescope. This image gives you an idea of how the terminator works. The terminator is the line that seperates the dark side from the light side. Over a 29.5 day period the terminator moves along the face of the Moon from a Full Moon to a New Moon with the quarters in between. Every night for 29.5 nights the Moon takes on a new look until the pattern repeats itself.
Moon rays show us what happened to the displaced soil material after the impact of an object that formed a crater. From the spray of the material we can tell the direction of the impact and the magnitude of the impact. To see the crater rays the light has to be in just the right place. These rays are not seen every night. They are seen only when the sunlight hits the Moon at the proper time and elevation to cause the rays to sparkle in the light.
The Moon has some strange landscapes when observed under a high powered telescope on a very clear and still night. In this picture we are looking down into the mouth of a few craters on the Moon. The shadows cast on the sides and floor of the craters make them almost come alive. As the night continues you can actually observe the shadows move along the floor of the craters as they get longer or shorter with time. Using special instruments, lens fixtures and some math calculations we can measure the shadow with the telescope and find out how high the ridge is that casts the shadow.
The full Moon reflects a great deal of light back to the Earth. Most people can see the dark areas of the Moon which were originally thought to be large bodies of water. The full Moon is actually the worst time to observe the Moon with a telescope because most of the craters are washed out in the direct light. In this photo you can see some crater rays clearly.
This area of the Moon is heavily cratered and difficult to see very well from Earth. Some craters in this part of the Moon were thought to contain ice. The jury is still out on this issue but many astronomers do feel this is a likely place for ice to exist if it exists at all on the Moon.
The Lunar 17 astronauts landed in the area below the Bay of Rainbows on the Mare Imbrium. This is the site where the astronauts brought a mobile lab with them to do experiments on the Moon from their location. Over 800 pounds of Moon rock was brought back to Earth during the missions that went to the Moon. Much of the rock was discovered to be a basalt like volcanic rock. This was not too different from the rocks found on Earth.
Mare Crisium is another sea area on the Moon that we can observe from Earth without the aid of a telescope. Depending on the atmospheric conditions, on the Earth, we can sometimes observe rills in the Mare Crisium area with our telescopes. The Earth's atmosphere does hinder what we can see in space. Sometimes, when the air is very still, we can see very small impact craters, rills or other rock formations under high power.
This area of the Moon is also very interesting. On the top left you see the Sea of Rains (Mare Iribrium). You can see the Bay of Rainbows at the far top left. Below this and to the right you can see the Sea of Serenity (Mare Serenitatis). At one time ancient astronomers thought the dark areas of the Moon were vast seas. They named the seas and today they retain those names.
The Straight Wall area is a remarkable location on the Moon. It is about 110 km long, it is as high as 300 meters in some places and it is as wide as 2.5 km. It is best observed when the Moon is illuminated from the east and it casts a shadow that makes the wall easy to see. It is not really a wall but from our viewpoint it looks like one.