Southern Moonscape


Behold: the south pole of the Moon. It’s up there amid the rugged lunar highlands near the top of this image captured recently from southern California. To wit:

At the Moon’s third quarter phase the lunar terminator, the sunset shadow line, is approaching from the left. The scene’s foreshortened perspective heightens the impression of a dense field of craters and makes the craters themselves appear more oval shaped close to the lunar limb. Below and left of centre is sharp-walled crater Tycho, 85 kilometres in diameter. Young Tycho’s central peak is still in sunlight, but casts a long shadow across the crater floor. The large prominent crater to the south (above) Tycho is Clavius. Nearly 231 kilometres in diameter its walls and floor are pocked with smaller, more recent, overlaying impact craters. Mountains visible along the lunar limb at the top can rise about 6 kilometres or so above the surrounding terrain.

(Image: Tom Glenn)


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1 thought on “Southern Moonscape

  1. Spaghetti Hoop

    The Tycho crater was named after the great Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe, who made the most accurate observations using the sextant and the quadrant – before the invention of the telescope. He was one of the scientific gang (led earlier by Copernicus) that believed the universe to be heliocentric (sun-centred) rather than geocentric, which was a big deal at the time. He lost part of his nose in a drunken duel with his cousin at a relative’s engagement party, which escalated from an argument over who was the greatest mathematician. He subsequently wore a prosthetic nose for the rest of his life. It was rumoured that the nose was made of gold. After he died, his body was later exhumed in order to find out if indeed the nose was made of gold. Turned out to be brass (though he did wear a gold or silver nose on special occasions). He wasn’t short of a few bob, being a nobleman with royal patronage to do his thing. I guess that allowed him to devote his time fully to the study of the stars and not take on a part-time job or anything. Think of him when you gaze upon his crater namesake.

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