Saturday, November 14, 2015

Lunation 196: The 2-Day-Old Moon

The "old moon in the young moon's arms"; a 2-day-old Moon hangs above the western horizon. Already we are able to see some details along the sun-lit edge; the Sea of Crises (Mare Crisium) can be seen at "three-thirty" while further down the curve of the crescent we can make out craters Langrenus, Vendelinus, Petavius, Hase and Furnerius. Far down the bright limb its line is broken--this is the result of mountains and crater walls blocking the Suns sharply-angled light--casting long shadows that we can see from a quarter-million-miles away!

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the slender crescent Moon at this time in its lunation is "Earthshine"--sunlight reflecting from Earth--dimly illuminating that face of the Moon which still languishes in night. We can see all of the major "seas" and a suggestion of the cratered "highlands", but it seems more a rough sketch than clear image. Imagine the sight (still unseen by any human) of a cratered moon-scape lit only by the light of distant Earth!

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