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Observing the Moon- Love it? or Hate it?


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I'm putting this thread here, as maybe some who have decided that they hate Lunar wouldn't even see it if it was in the Lunar Observing section. Mods please move if you deem that is appropriate though 😊.

I have been looking/ glancing/scowling at the Moon for over 40 years on and off..if I'm honest I'd have to say that I've enjoyed very fast, superficial "looks" at it on a regular basis like this:

First Quarter: notice the first thin sliver in the setting sky, admire it's prettiness, have very quick peeks through a scope or binoculars, but inwardly cuss the approaching waxing cycle..

Second Quarter: by now the Moon is getting past half Full, much brighter, and in the autumn and winter seasons getting higher in the sky the more it gets closer to Full. I have the odd look, almost exclusively along the terminator, where my Tak's rendition of razor sharp features along the black/white divide are startling on clear nights. I even whop in my cheap binoviewer for a couple of blindingly bright twin eyed "Spacewalk" views...quickly followed by a "proper session", observing other "proper" celestial targets (even though their presentation is being wrecked by the overpowering pesky Moon!..

Third Quarter: at last! The wretched blinding ball thingy is rising later and later..and shrinking!! Soon, if I have a late evening session, I can get an hour with little or no interference from Luna, and by next week the blasted thing will be gone altogether for almost 2 whole weeks - until the whole thing starts all over again!!🤦

New Moon: Yes!!! This is what REAL observing is all about..no blinding light in the sky, right next to that planet or cluster I wanted to observe, but wait..now that the moon has gone, I'm sure there are more clouds around than when it was full, and turned my usual Bortle 4 skies to Bortle 15??🤦

Now, the above summary is of course rather tongue in cheek, but if I'm honest it does largely summarise my attitude towards the Moon over many years..until now, that is.

My one resolution this year is to try to appreciate everything I see when I look up..including our nearest other planet. It struck me that I spend long hours trying to tease out faint, subtle details on so many objects, being delighted when I think I have seen some faint feature on Mars, or split a very unequal double, or a faint cluster with averted vision..and yet, here is a body where any optical aid will show an overwhelming number of features in incredible detail! But...HOW to start making sense of all this detail?

So, starting last night, I went out with the sole purpose of observing the moon, and nothing else. 

I have a copy of an old, but I think, excellent book, Atlas of the Night Sky, by Storm Dunlop (pub 1984), but for Epoch 2000, and it has an excellent section on the Moon, with very clear illustrations to help Lunar beginners like me.  One thing that always put me off learning some of the Lunar features is the "Right Way Up, but Left and Right Reversed" orientation of most lunar maps I've seen show (or even more often, inverted and reversed for Newtonians and Dobs!).

Well, this book has both the above catered for, but also has maps showing the exact same view as seen through a refractor with a diagonal.. (see photos below), in a series of 16 maps and last night, using this refractor friendly mapping, I was able to spend a very enjoyable 90 minutes on the Plato area, and to begin searching for, and finding, other objects that until now I'd never yet known by name or location. There are also maps and explanatory notes.on Libration and the effects of it, as well as full maps of both the near and far sides of the Moon.

So my Lunar exploration has begun, very belatedly: it will never be my main love in astronomy, but already I can see that our sister world can most definitely have an appeal, as I gradually dismantle my former ignorance of it!!

I'd love to hear others' thoughts on this "Marmite" subject🤔🙂..and thanks for reading this far.

Dave

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Edited by F15Rules
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Mostly look at the moon during phases, but not too much when near full, although with a filter on you can still see some surface features too then on the disk. AsI live in a bortal 7 suburban skies I don’t bemoan the moon too much as it has to be good seeing even on the darker nights to see any fainter dso’s, and I hate dragging my 10” Newtonian light bucket out so generally don’t miss the fainter stuff too much! ;) 

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I'm not a fan of the moon but had to give you a like for a funny post 😁

Visual stopped doing anything for me since taking up AP, but I must admit, I do regret, a little, selling the 127 Mak and eyepieces - it gave superb views of the moon. 

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1 hour ago, Trippelforge said:

It's obnoxious for sure and something I pay pretty close attention to. I got so frustrated I asked a similar question, I am glad I am not the only one!

Interesting thread, I hadn't seen that..

I'm trying hard to fall in love with the moon. Wish me luck🥴😂.

Dave

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I confess I do love observing the Moon too. I have a love of solar observing have had plenty of days, using an EQ mounted scope, when the scope has tracked the sun all day, then I’ve swung back to pick up the Moon as it rises. Doing this over a number of clear nights from a very thin crescent is fascinating.

I enjoy everything from a quick look, through a trawl up the terminator to a more intense session trying to find some of the more difficult targets. I’m a long way from being an expert, but do enjoy it.

Favourites are targets like the craters Messier and Messier A, Hadley Rille, Schröter’s Valley and Treisnecker Rilles. Plenty more though.

@F15Rules, your scopes are ideal for this so I’m surprised you haven’t got the big sooner. Have you checked out the Lunar 100 information in the Lunar section? A great starting point for a range of targets from easy to very tricky.

Clear nights are rare enough, so if the Moon happens to be out then why fight it? Enjoy the views!

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I have to confess a similar frustration to you Dave - even when I decide to give the moon a go, it still sometimes frustrates by being too low or too full! And it seems to hang around for so long. But when I got my binoviewers, I was blown away by the views of the moon and it did trigger an awakening of interest - I started to track down some more challenging or unusual features like domes. But my interest has waned again. I think the key for me is to do some proper planning, and a good book or lunar resource can really help - looks like you've found a goodun'. I found a Lunar 100 list ordered by lunar day which also refers to Rukl charts which happen to be in my Colins Concise Guide to Moon and Mars, so that should help me plan. I'd also like a nice lunar map for my wall, to remind me it's there!

We can do this together Dave! 😄

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Never really loved the Moon but used to spend some time at the eyepiece looking up features or just taking in the wider view.

But I rarely look through my scopes now and imaging the Moon isn't my forte so unfortunately it's mostly just a nuisance to me. 

I do like moody Moonrises or ultra thin crescents to try and spot but other than I'd like to remove its batteries or at least fit a dimmer.

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I love the moon and, considering the trouble I have with deep sky AP am considering making it and the planets my primary focus.

I am reading Volume one of Luna Cognita by Robert A Garfunkel at the moment (just finished day 5) and this is a very detailed resource, though I like the look of your book.

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I dislike the moon with a passion, but unfortunately we need it, not just for tidal stabilisation but for resources and as a staging post for solar system travel, so best give it a paint with Black V3. Otherwise I'd say collapse it into a Black Hole and be done with it.

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I have a love hate thing with the moon.  When it is under half full i love trying to bring out all the detail along the terminator,  all the details of the mountains and the magnificent desolation of the surface.  Then there is the hate part.  It never fails, i get a clear night for doing the DSO thing and there it is .... The full moon always right next to what I am trying to look at.  

Edited by Mike Q
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23 hours ago, F15Rules said:

I'm putting this thread here, as maybe some who have decided that they hate Lunar wouldn't even see it if it was in the Lunar Observing section. Mods please move if you deem that is appropriate though 😊.

I have been looking/ glancing/scowling at the Moon for over 40 years on and off..if I'm honest I'd have to say that I've enjoyed very fast, superficial "looks" at it on a regular basis like this:

First Quarter: notice the first thin sliver in the setting sky, admire it's prettiness, have very quick peeks through a scope or binoculars, but inwardly cuss the approaching waxing cycle..

Second Quarter: by now the Moon is getting past half Full, much brighter, and in the autumn and winter seasons getting higher in the sky the more it gets closer to Full. I have the odd look, almost exclusively along the terminator, where my Tak's rendition of razor sharp features along the black/white divide are startling on clear nights. I even whop in my cheap binoviewer for a couple of blindingly bright twin eyed "Spacewalk" views...quickly followed by a "proper session", observing other "proper" celestial targets (even though their presentation is being wrecked by the overpowering pesky Moon!..

Third Quarter: at last! The wretched blinding ball thingy is rising later and later..and shrinking!! Soon, if I have a late evening session, I can get an hour with little or no interference from Luna, and by next week the blasted thing will be gone altogether for almost 2 whole weeks - until the whole thing starts all over again!!🤦

New Moon: Yes!!! This is what REAL observing is all about..no blinding light in the sky, right next to that planet or cluster I wanted to observe, but wait..now that the moon has gone, I'm sure there are more clouds around than when it was full, and turned my usual Bortle 4 skies to Bortle 15??🤦

Now, the above summary is of course rather tongue in cheek, but if I'm honest it does largely summarise my attitude towards the Moon over many years..until now, that is.

My one resolution this year is to try to appreciate everything I see when I look up..including our nearest other planet. It struck me that I spend long hours trying to tease out faint, subtle details on so many objects, being delighted when I think I have seen some faint feature on Mars, or split a very unequal double, or a faint cluster with averted vision..and yet, here is a body where any optical aid will show an overwhelming number of features in incredible detail! But...HOW to start making sense of all this detail?

So, starting last night, I went out with the sole purpose of observing the moon, and nothing else. 

I have a copy of an old, but I think, excellent book, Atlas of the Night Sky, by Storm Dunlop (pub 1984), but for Epoch 2000, and it has an excellent section on the Moon, with very clear illustrations to help Lunar beginners like me.  One thing that always put me off learning some of the Lunar features is the "Right Way Up, but Left and Right Reversed" orientation of most lunar maps I've seen show (or even more often, inverted and reversed for Newtonians and Dobs!).

Well, this book has both the above catered for, but also has maps showing the exact same view as seen through a refractor with a diagonal.. (see photos below), in a series of 16 maps and last night, using this refractor friendly mapping, I was able to spend a very enjoyable 90 minutes on the Plato area, and to begin searching for, and finding, other objects that until now I'd never yet known by name or location. There are also maps and explanatory notes.on Libration and the effects of it, as well as full maps of both the near and far sides of the Moon.

So my Lunar exploration has begun, very belatedly: it will never be my main love in astronomy, but already I can see that our sister world can most definitely have an appeal, as I gradually dismantle my former ignorance of it!!

I'd love to hear others' thoughts on this "Marmite" subject🤔🙂..and thanks for reading this far.

Dave

IMG_20230103_162813307.jpg

IMG_20230103_163400746.jpg

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IMG_20230103_164539235.jpg

IMG_20230103_164548101.jpg

IMG_20230103_164601497.jpg

IMG_20230103_164530270.jpg

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 You used a very telling turn of phrase in your post Dave - "Superficial".  I've been there too. The Moon used to be the object I was least interested in, yet it's the nearest world to our own and completely alien in its terrain, and even its composition still leaves scientists questioning its origin.  I think it was the the Moon's complexity that terrified me, which is probably what stops others from enjoying observing it; and it wasn't until I decided to observe it with a purpose rather than superficially skimming its surface, that it started to interest me. I wanted to draw its features like Harold Hill drew them, but every time I tried, I found my scale was off or the shadows changed so rapidly that I couldn't keep up. It was a nightmare to draw, and even now I only attempt two or three drawings per year, if that.

 As I wanted to learn to enjoy the Moon, I decided to start small. Ringed planes were my first choice as a target; not the mountain ring but just the lava plane. I remember vividly looking first at Aristarchus. It's initial appearance was of a totally bland lava plane, but i soon realised its not bland at all, but made up of various shades. I even began to realise that there were definite sharp divisions separating these different shaded planes which appeared to me to indicate points where the plane has uplifted or dropped. And so I felt like I was discovering something for myself and that made things start to get interesting. Even when the Moon is full or near full, I will study the lava planes for subtle differences in shade, and imagine how the terrain would look if I were on the moon's surface. 

 The craters dominate the scene so I tend to ignore them to a point. I have a thing for hunting and tracing rilles, and I spend a lot of my time following them as they traverse the mountains and follow mare shores. They are so fine and easly overlooked,  but once found are irresistible to trace, seeing how they relate to eachother and the terrain around them.

 I now love the Moon, particularly in the first half of the year as the night's get brighter and temperatures milder, and of course the Moon rises high in our evening sky. To aimlessly fly over its surface using a binoviewer can be most enjoyable, and at times stomach churning. One evening a few years ago I was lost in the awesome view as I drifted unwittingly over the edge of the Alpes, which towered in 3D at 180X, and my stomach rolled as I felt I was physically falling over the vast towering cliff face. I think i had a verbal discharge as well. So I now love the Moon more than I love the planets, and even my sketching of it has improved, though not the the standard of HH.

Edited by mikeDnight
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I used to see it as an annoyance when I wanted to observe DSOs, but I've come to enjoy lunar observing, especially around the first and last quarters.  I don't observe it when it's full or for a few days either side of full - features are too washed out for my tastes.

I didn't realize how much detail is visible until I really took a hard look instead of just glancing at it.

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Having only small telescopes and not being an imager I love the Moon. It is absolutely overflowing with detail and I try to observe it daily (fat chance with the weather round here) from a 1-2 day old crescent right up to full. It's the terminator line where all the action takes place, as the shadow line races over the surface creating massive relief on lunar features. I am quite familiar with a waxing Moon but would like to be able to follow the shadow line as it retreats when the full Moon begins to wane. It's the same features but in reverse but I don't have much experience of seeing the lunar features illuminated from this opposite direction, creating different relief and therefore a different view of each feature. Maybe when I retire and don't have to get up for work and am allowed to stay up really late this will be possible.

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On 03/01/2023 at 16:51, F15Rules said:

So, starting last night, I went out with the sole purpose of observing the moon, and nothing else. 

I bet you feel like you're in a lunar orbiter viewing with the FS-128!

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Lunar is a Love for me.
It was my first target, like with many others before and after me.
I confess I am a full on Lunar tic, and wax lyrical at my Monthly club talk on observing about it.

 

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Thanks, Tim, yes it does seem like that at low power. 

I actually spent most of that session at quite high power though, around 180x to 250x, as it was such steady seeing, for once..but the RA drive on the Tak mount just ensured that the moon stayed virtually still, with very few manual adjustments.

Dave

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I'm beginning to enjoy the moon.  I'd rather be observing DSO's, but going up and down the terminator is good fun.

Thanks @Stu for the lunar references.  That'll be very useful.  I've tried using Turn Left at Orion for finding my way around but it is not so good on lunar, at least from my limited experience.

One thing I like about the moon as it approaches fullness is it's (almost) guaranteed to bring clear skies for a decent length of time.  I've also found that my image processing is so bad that the moonlight doesn't even touch the sides of the problems my images have, so I can safely ignore its existence.

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I can understand why DSO imagers/observers might hate the Moon, but it's got to be the No1 object for observation in the night-sky, just look at it, it's another world! There is no other object in the sky, except the Sun, that offers up so much detail to the observer. Jupiter and Saturn are both high up on the list too whereas Mars, for me, is more of an event. A few months either side of opposition and only once every 2 years. Venus and Mercury show their phases and it's always interesting to see their movements in the sky relative to the Sun and how this effects the phase showing but the Moon wins hands down for me. Daytime solar observation comes a close 2nd and the Sun would probably pip the Moon for top-spot, if I could afford a dedicated solar HA telescope!

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7 hours ago, mikeDnight said:

 You used a very telling turn of phrase in your post Dave - "Superficial".  I've been there too. The Moon used to be the object I was least interested in, yet it's the nearest world to our own and completely alien in its terrain, and even its composition still leaves scientists questioning its origin.  I think it was the the Moon's complexity that terrified me, which is probably what stops others from enjoying observing it; and it wasn't until I decided to observe it with a purpose rather than superficially skimming its surface, that it started to interest me. I wanted to draw its features like Harold Hill drew them, but every time I tried, I found my scale was off or the shadows changed so rapidly that I couldn't keep up. It was a nightmare to draw, and even now I only attempt two or three drawings per year, if that.

 As I wanted to learn to enjoy the Moon, I decided to start small. Ringed planes were my first choice as a target; not the mountain ring but just the lava plane. I remember vividly looking first at Aristarchus. It's initial appearance was of a totally bland lava plane, but i soon realised its not bland at all, but made up of various shades. I even began to realise that there were definite sharp divisions separating these different shaded planes which appeared to me to indicate points where the plane has uplifted or dropped. And so I felt like I was discovering something for myself and that made things start to get interesting. Even when the Moon is full or near full, I will study the lava planes for subtle differences in shade, and imagine how the terrain would look if I were on the moon's surface. 

 The craters dominate the scene so I tend to ignore them to a point. I have a thing for hunting and tracing rilles, and I spend a lot of my time following them as they traverse the mountains and follow mare shores. They are so fine and easly overlooked,  but once found are irresistible to trace, seeing how they relate to eachother and the terrain around them.

 I now love the Moon, particularly in the first half of the year as the night's get brighter and temperatures milder, and of course the Moon rises high in our evening sky. To aimlessly fly over its surface using a binoviewer can be most enjoyable, and at times stomach churning. One evening a few years ago I was lost in the awesome view as I drifted unwittingly over the edge of the Alpes, which towered in 3D at 180X, and my stomach rolled as I felt I was physically falling over the vast towering cliff face. I think i had a verbal discharge as well. So I now love the Moon more than I love the planets, and even my sketching of it has improved, though not the the standard of HH.

You're right, Mike, Superficial is the word..so much detail, it's scary, and hard to make sense of with just short, 5 minute views. 

The other night I actually used my Moon maps mentioned above, on and off for over an hour, checking that what I thought I was seeing was what I was actually seeing. In this regard, what really helped were the maps with the same orientation view as my scope, ie image right way up but reversed left and right with a diagonal.

It was quite rewarding to "navigate" from the map and actually identify objects and features for myself, and to have different maps covering "chunks" of the moon definitely makes it easier to learn key features within that "chunk"..

Dave

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