Lunar Observing

Many times at our Public Observing sessions I hear questions asked about the most visible object in the night sky, the Moon. Our guests ask questions like:

  • “What is that peak in the middle of the crater and how was it formed?”
  • “What are those bright streaks on the Moon and where do they come from?”
  • “What are the dark areas and what are they called?”
  • “What are those long things that look like ditches or roads?”

Have any of you ever been asked any of these questions or others? As amateur astronomers we should know some lunar basics, after all our motto is “Expanding horizons through education and observation.” Many times I have been asked questions that I didn’t know the answer to, but I was determined I would have an answer the next time I was asked. I have the telescopes and equipment for the “Observing” part of the motto, but the “Education” that was a different matter and I felt I was lacking in that regard. The AL Lunar Certification program helped me gain the answers and confidence I needed to answer their questions.

I am happy to say there are a number of members interested in the Lunar Certification program. I am thrilled that we have so many members now participating. I would like to pass on to those members some web sites and information that would be helpful.

  • – The Moon book has files in PDF format that can be down loaded and printed for use in the field.
  • – The Moon is an object that is visible to us for quite a few days out of the month. The fact that you may live in a light polluted area makes viewing the lunar surface even more desirable.

The program gives you a number of ways to observe the Moon with binoculars, telescope or just naked eye viewing. The key is to pay attention to the age of the Moon in relation to the time of the month. An example would be “4 day old Moon” or “14 day old Moon.” These timetables give you the best opportunity to utilize the shadows of the formations for better viewing.

Just think, here you have an object that duplicates most of the surface structure you see on many planets and minor planets. If you look at the various structures on Mars for example a lot of those same formations are on the lunar surface. Our study and understanding of the lunar formations and how they came to be is the same scientific study that professional astronomers are undertaking as they study Mars and other minor planets with more powerful equipment. Our earth because of its atmosphere and ever changing landscape makes it tough to see or study any of the impact craters of our own planet.

I urge all of you to join in with us and not only reap the rewards of viewing the many formations on the Moon but to understand how those formations came to be and the ability to give explanations to other individuals. So the next time you are asked a question about a formation on the Moon you will have the understanding and confidence to answer their questions.

If you have any questions you can email us at and we will be glad to help in any way. We look forward to observing with you.

Sun & Moon
February 4, 2023, 10:31 am
7:14 am
6:07 pm
Full Moon
13 days, 19 hours
6:51 am
5:11 pm

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