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Tantalus

Lunar 100: From the beginning...

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Helios f8 120mm refractor

EQ5 + Dual axis motors

20mm Plossl

Like others, I've been inspired by Doc's informative and very enjoyable Lunar 100 reports, and I've made a start on the list myself tonight.

Started observing around 9 pm and what better place to start the list than at #1, the Moon itself. I know every man and his dog has seen the Moon, but as someone else said, it's about observing and not just seeing, so I dedicated the night to observing the Moon as an astronomical object in it's own right, with the just the 20mm ep (50x) which framed the 97% illuminated Moon perfectly.

The most obvious features are the dark Mare of course, and though a scope it's noticable that the Mare are much smoother than the rest of the lunar surface.

Next, craters Copernicus and Tycho competing with each other to draw the observer inwards. Tycho has always been my personal favourite Moon feature, and tonight it didn't disappoint, with it's extensive rays of ejecta streching far out across the Lunar surface. Every time I see Tycho I can't help thinking how spectacular that impact must've been (had anyone been around to see it 100 million or so years ago!). Copernicus was no less spectacular surrounded by it's sinuous grey tendrils standing out clearly against the darker surface of Mare Imbrium & Sinus Aestuum, and it's central peaks visible even at low magnification. I know Copernicus is an impact crater, but in places the meandering ejecta trails look more like lava flows to my eyes. And west of Copernicus is it's visual smaller twin Kepler (which in an earlier report I mis-identified as Reinhold - oops ***).

Then Plato, which at this magnification and now lava-filled more closely resembled a small Mare than an impact crater, and almost impossibly regular in shape.

Next, the numerous small bright craters which stand out even in the glare of an almost full Moon, with Aristarchus the most obvious (and I won't embarass myself further by mis-identifying the rest). I didn't want to spend too much time picking out individual features - they'll come later in the list, so I then just kicked back and took in the entire Lunar vista for a while.

At this point I was interrupted by a couple of neighbours who were wanting to know what I was looking at. So I took the chance to do a little outreach and let them have a look through the scope. Firstly at the Moon, then I dazzled 'em with Saturn. And as I'm sure many of you have experienced, when you let Joe Public (mature adults, that is) have a look their reactions are almost invariably of amazement, followed by a flurry of naive questions. One guy said he'd heard of Saturns rings, but never really believed they existed until tonight! And the other said he had a small telescope in his attic which he's never used, but was now thinking of digging it out again (He's seen me in the yard with my scope on a number of occasions). They stayed for more than half an hour, discussing the Solar system, Universe and all that, and by the time they left I only had another 10 minutes of the Moon before it disappeared behind houses, but I didn't mind their intrusion because they'd shown a genuine fascination, and at least they had the courtesy to share their beer... ;)

To end the night, I couldn't resist spending the last 10 minutes having a wonder around the lower Mare Tranquillitatis, close to Ritter, Sabine, and Rimae Hypatia, letting my imagination wonder back to the magical days of 1969.

As Doc says, we often complain about ol' Luna, but tonight has been an eye-opener. There's so much to see there, the Lunar 100 is just a starting point.

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I totally agree with all you say and have also nicked Mick's tack and started the Lunar 100 myself - I am just doing my first write up on the ones seen so far. it's a really great thing to do and a couple of things have surprised me - although they are quite obvious really - although I am a noobie.

the first was that the moon is so bright that it sometimes (even with a 13% moon filter) means that the secondary in my 12" dob is visible even with a 24mm lens and f5.3 scope! obviously my pupil is contracting in protest!!

the other is how easy it is some nights to see things and how hard the next to see the same objects. obviously the shadow is the reason and it shows how productive watching for different things over a few nights can be!

although only up to about 30, I am looking forward to the challenge of finding the rest over coming months.

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Great report Tantalus and you have very nice writing style which makes the report very easy to read.

It is true what Shane says about objects being easier to see at certain times, I find if you pick your targets along the terminator or pretty close to it, they are so much easier to spot.

It's not easy to coplete the Lunar 100 just ask Carol as you will find that many objects will require you to get up really early or stay up dead late and maybe even observe from a different location as the moon at your normal observing site is too low.

Anyway have fun and keep a record.

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Nice report indeed. Nicely detailed.

I've been talking to Shane about this and i must start myself. Will need to dig out that copy of AN.

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Great report, and i'm looking forward to many more. It's also great that you had the chance for some outreach (and a few brews, too :p ).

All i need are two more but i know L99 (Ina Caldera) is too small for my 8"SCT. I'll keep trying for L100 (Marginis swirls) though, and hope to see it when everything comes together properly.

Many of the targets are difficult at best. Others are at the mercy of clouds, seeing, libration, or the Moon being below the horizon when the target's favorable. Some low features require a very low light angle and their windows of opportunity may only be a few hours a month. It can be frustrating but it's still a lot of fun.

One more thing... i was quite active in a group a number of years ago in which Chuck (Dr. Wood, author of the list) told us that the higher numbered targets aren't necessarily the most difficult to see. He compiled the list from the view of a planetary geologist, not an observer. For instance, L74 is an ash halo and is quite easy to see. L98 is the lava flow system in Mare Imbrium, also reasonably easy provided the lighting is right. BTW, Chuck wrote a fantastic book called 'The Modern Moon: A Personal View'... highly recommended by this moonatic. :D

Edited by Talitha

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What sized scope would you reckon is the smallest to properly DO the lunar 100.... I would like to get something larger than my ST120. I still have the limb/libration objects and the wee tiddly ones. I quite often note interesting things as I observe and use Chu MoonBook and Rukl to check. I like the reason for the Lunar100... for their interest, but would still like to have another list to keep my busy when I 'mine out' the Lunar100. If you know of any such lists of objects, I'd like to hear.

Seems like Doc has started a 'rush' in new found interest in lunar observing... no bad thing!

Cheers

PEterW

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Seems like Doc has started a 'rush' in new found interest in lunar observing... no bad thing!

Indeed Peter

in fact I say just the same in my own thread http://stargazerslounge.com/observing-lunar-solar/102999-another-lunar-100-ite.html#post1425139 from the other night - "the moon is the new stars" :D

ps my next report will compare the results of my 120mm refractor against the 12" dob. for me the dob wins on almost all subjects, moon included.

Edited by Moonshane

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Thanks for all your kind comments guys.

I did wonder, Talitha, about the order, with some of the Mare being further down the list. You're so lucky getting to meet all these people.

I'm gonna need some higher magnification for the harder targets, but there's no rush and I'm in this for the long haul. And it'll be interesting to see how some of the targets change under different conditions.

Clear skies to all...

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