Give the Moon a chance

Waxing Gibbous Moon, by James Guilford. April 3, 2020.

by William Murmann, CAA President

I know the Moon is considered a nuisance by many of our members.  However, it does have many things worth looking at as it waxes and wanes during the month.  Every night presents something new to see.
Tonight {April 3, 2020} for example, we have a waxing nine-day Moon that is past first quarter.  Looking along the terminator, however, you can spot 52-mile diameter crater Tycho with its steep walls and magnificent ray system that shoots halfway across the Moon.
Farther to the Moon’s north, we have 56-mile diameter crater Copernicus with a collection of four to five thousand-foot mountain peaks in its center made by rebound energy immediately after the crater was created by its impactor.
And just below the Moon’s north polar region, we have the 61-mile diameter crater Plato, the famous “Black Lake.”  Plato is filled halfway with black lava.  On its western rim there is a 9,000-foot peak called Plato Zeta.
As the Moon wanes and the terminator from the setting Sun nears the western edge of the crater, a sharp, spiky shadow can be seen shooting about 30 miles across the crater floor just as the Sun hits Plato Zeta.  By luck, I happened to observing Plato at 4 a.m. one morning and saw the shadow at the exact moment when the setting Sun hit the peak and shot the shadow across the crater floor.
If you are up for a challenge, see if you can see Plato Zeta’s spiky shadow just as it appears.

 

Author: Webmaster

I am Webmaster for the Cuyahoga Astronomical Association. I also participate in outreach programming in public observing and occasional presentations on behalf of the CAA and a local college.