Archive for the ‘Lunar’ Category

Kaguya Lunar Atlas


I first bought a copy of this book back in 2011 when it was published. Since then, and thanks largely to the accompanying text, it has been a constant companion in my lunar library. The book presents good quality HDTV images from the camera onboard the SELENE (more commonly known by its Japanese nickname Kaguya ) orbiter. Kaguya was launched in September 2007 and after a number of successful orbits it was deliberately crashed into the lunar surface in June 2009. It’s two 2.2 megapixel CCD HDTV cameras, one wide-angle and one telephoto, along with a terrain and multi-band imager, sent back some fantastic high resolution images. The book uses the HDTV images along with descriptive text of the features to give you a good primer on the typical features you will see and explains their formation and origins. The book openly encourages you to interpret lunar features for yourself as you progress through the pages and you will find that this does quickly become possible.

The book is now out of print and secondhand copies are extremely expensive (£80 + on Amazon) . You can occasionally find some reasonably priced editions at the AddALL used and out of print books search here AddALL Books Search where I have seen copies going for £20 – £25. If you see one, snap it up, this is a fantastic book for the lunar enthusiast/planetary geologist.

Categories: Books, Lunar Tags: , , , ,

Supermoon and Total Lunar Eclipse – September 28th 2015

September 28, 2015 Leave a comment

IMG_0336Supermoon at 12:19 am 28/9/15 Equinox ED80 Canon 350d @ prime focus

OK so I am going to try and update this post tonight as the combined supermoon and total lunar eclipse progress. The post may become more incoherent as tiredness takes over, but we will see how far we get ! If you don’t know what I am talking about and you live in the UK, Western Europe, West Africa, Greenland, Iceland or North America then take a look at the info. here Astronomy Now Magazine – Total Lunar Eclipse

Tonight we have a rare treat. The Moon is currently at perigree ie. it’s closest approach to Earth in its elliptical orbit. This means that the Moon will appear approximately 8% larger than normal and this event is popularly referred to as a ‘supermoon’. But there’s more ! The Moon is also aligned fully within the Earth’s shadow and will therefore darken dramatically to a deep brownish red colour at totality between 3.11am and 4.23am (BST). The red colour is caused by light from the Sun passing through Earth’s atmosphere around the edge of the globe. The blue light of our atmosphere is scattered more easily, but the red light of the various sunsets and sunrises around the edge makes it through and is projected onto the surface of the Moon.

Currently the sky is clear and the supermoon looks fantastic over the roof of our house. I have a Skywatcher Equinox ED 80 refractor mounted on an EQ6 equatorial mount which is computer driven so that it tracks the Moon. Photographs are being taken with my rather ancient Canon 350D DSLR mounted directly onto the telescope tube at prime focus and  using the telescope as the lens. Focusing is a bit hit and miss with this setup as the 350D does not have a Liveview that you can zoom so I have to get the focus set up as close as possible via the small viewfinder and then view each shot zoomed in, re-focus, take another shot and view zoomed in it etc. until the focus looks good.

The eclipse action starts at 1.12am (BST) when the Moon starts to enter the Earth’s shadow in the penumbral phase. We won’t notice anything until 2.07am (BST) though when the umbral phase begins and we see the Earth’s shadow creep across the top left limb of the Moon.

UPDATE 4.28 am….. Well the live thing didn’t work out as I had to constantly monitor the setup and change the camera exposure settings throughout to capture the full red colouring and change of light. Have to say that was bloody fantastic to watch !!! 4.15 am and I am still wide awake with excitement 🙂 Anyway here are a few photos through to maximum  totality at 3.47am and beyond…..

IMG_03442.26 (BST) Quarter Shadow

IMG_03482.54 (BST) Half Shadow

IMG_03613.16 (BST) Red colouring appears

IMG_03633.21 (BST)

IMG_03683.28 (BST)

IMG_0383Maximum Totality 3.59 (BST)

IMG_03864.01 (BST)

Getting reacquainted with the Moon – 26th April 2015


Above: The four large, dark, roughly circular, lava-filled basins of Mare Crisium (far right), Mare Fecunditatis (below Crisium), Mare Tranquilitatis (left of Crisium), Mare Serenitatis (top). The lunar maria are approximately 3.5 billion years old.

It’s been a few years now since I have had some quality time scanning across the surface of the Moon with the Vixen 4.5″ refractor. It was a crisp and clear night and the stars seemed steady so I thought the atmospheric seeing would be good for photography using the Imaging Source DMK41 mono video camera. How wrong I was ! As the surface came into focus on the laptop screen all I could see was a rapidly shifting blur. This kind of atmospheric wobbling always seems similar to looking through the surface of a stream with a gentle current, everything is rippling at the surface and you can’t quite see the detail on the stony bottom. And yet, on the odd fleeting occasion, moments of near steadiness did appear, as if windscreen wipers had brushed aside the smearing. I found that if you timed it right you could pause the recording run during the blurred phases and then set the video running again when it cleared. This built up enough relatively clear frames in a run of 1200-1400 to extract about 50 for aligning and stacking in Registax 6. This software really is a marvel at sorting out the good frames from the poor once you have found the optimal settings and these images would simply not have been possible without it.


Above: The southern edge of the Imbrium Basin with its south east edge defined by the peaks of the Appenine Mountain range. The large crater right on the terminator (boundary between dark and light) is Archimedes with Autolycus to the right and Aristillus above that. The crater bottom right is Manilius. The peaks in the mountain range, picked out by a cap of bright light, are between 1-2km high. Apollo 15 explored one of these massifs when it landed near Mount Hadley, which is the brightest peak at centre right


Above: The string of three large craters on the terminator at the centre of the image are (top to bottom) Ptolemaeus, Alphonsus and Arzachel. The large craters Hipparchus and Albategnius lie to the right of Ptolemaeus


Above: A nice wide view of the south east quarter of the Moon with the Altai Scarp picked out nicely south west of Mare Nectaris, numerous bright ejecta rays and the densely cratered southern polar region.

Crescent Moon and Venus – 22nd March 2015

March 22, 2015 Leave a comment

DSC02531alt2The crescent moon descending through fog in the west with Venus above 8.10pm

Categories: Lunar, Planets

Lunar Occultation of Venus and Conjunction too!

December 1, 2008 Leave a comment

At 15.48UT Venus was occulted by the moon low in the south. I missed the start of the occultation while I was at work, but the weather was cloudy at the time so it was not visible. I left work 16.45, looked up and was amazed to see the thin crescent moon and Jupiter clearly on display with Venus hidden by the moons disk. I raced home to try and catch Venus appearing on the western side of the moon at 17.17UT. I was very lucky to catch Venus appearing again right on the edge of the moon, a beautiful sight! The trio of Jupiter, Venus and the Moon were all very close in conjunction and made a superb image. You can see two of Jupiter’s moons top right either side of Jupiter. Canon 350D, Tamron 70-300 zoom, Canon 18-55 zoom. ISO 200, 4 secs.

Categories: Lunar, Planets

Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter

November 28, 2008 Leave a comment

This was a trial run in advance of the highly anticipated conjunction of the moon, Venus and Jupiter in the early evening sky on Monday 1st December at around 5pm. I wanted to try and capture the planets reflected in the canal water and just about managed it before the canal was plunged into darkness. Jupiter at top and Venus below. Canon 350D, ISO 400, 8 seconds.

Categories: Lunar, Planets

The Sun 1-8-08 – Partial Eclipse Day !

August 1, 2008 Leave a comment
Took a day off work today to see if I could catch the partial eclipse on camera. It looked very doubtful at first with lots of cloud and the potential for rain, but to my amazement at 9.30 the clouds started to clear and I got a complete sequence of the partial eclipse from 9.42 BST through to 11.04 BST using afocal photography via the PST. You can see a video of the sequence here Below are images showing the start, middle and end of the sequence plus the full disk and main proms for the day taken in the afternoon.

9.42 BST

Maximum for our latitude at 10.15 BST

Near end of sequence 11.04 BST

Categories: Lunar, Solar

The Moon and the Pleiades 8-4-08

The Moon passed close to the Pleiades star cluster tonight in a conjunction. I caught it quite late due to cloud and just had time for a quick 2 second photo with the Canon S3 IS at ISO 80. Even at 2 seconds the stars are trailing!

Crescent Moon 8-4-08

Taken on the Canon S3 IS at 400mm 5 secs ISO 80

Categories: Lunar

Thin Crescent Moon in the West

It was a new moon yesterday and the crescent was super-thin. I managed to get a photo of the crescent tonight at 7.30pm and it looks quite atmospheric hovering above the rain clouds in the west with a slight “earthshine” effect.

Categories: Lunar