On the richness of the lunar surface

March 25th 2007
20:45UT - 22:08 UT
Lunation 6.71 Days
200mm/8mm/ 150 X
Seeing 1
300gm Daler Rowney paper/Soft Pastels/Conte Crayons/Quilling Needle

There is an exquisite richness in the play of light on the lunar surface.  The deepest blacks and brightest whites develop as the sun pours or withdraws its light  during the moons journey around the Earth. Shadows both deep and subtle entice curiosity about their origins against a continually changing vista.

While observing some years ago I wandered into the visually rich lunar landscape near  the Hyginus rille . This area was close to the terminator near the South West region of Mare Serenitiatis. The lunar terrain had a lot of linear features and subtle shadows mixed in with some well defined craters like Manilius (South-West part of Mare Serenitatis) Agrippa and Godin, (East of Mare Tranquillitatis region) Also in my field of view that evening was the  not so clear Boscovich which looked broken and messed up toward its western wall.

On the terminator, lovely black finger like shadows were cast onto the lunar surface clawing for a grip on the daytime moon. Fine wispy shadows lengthened on barely visible higher areas and subtle diverse greys told a tale of, as yet undefined lunar features hiding and waiting for some other sketch. Boscovitch an 18th century Croatian astronomer penned  many tomes on the subject.  One of his discoveries was the fact that the moon is devoid of an  atmosphere , however to me the area around Boscovitch crater was full of visual treats which fashioned a rich visual and moody panorama in my eye.

During the session my eye wandered into Mare Serenitatis around Menealaus (not sketched)  and picked out the smaller but brighter Bessel, this formed a triangle with the wonderfully named Sulpicius Gallus on the SW edge of the Mare. In my sketch Sulpicius is the bright circular crater on the edge of the darker grey area out to the left.

Sulpicius Gallus was a roman general who had a working  knowledge of astronomy.  He is noted as predicting a lunar eclipse on the eve of the battle of Pynda in 168 BC.  His men were informed , this helped them to be calm while his enemies were consumed by fear. Indeed there are a number of suggestions that the lunar eclipse at the time was one in which the moon  may have been particularly darkened by the shadow of the Earth.

Sometimes the names of features on the moon are so intriguing  that further reading brings  that extra depth to the visual pleasure of observing.  In my talks about lunar software I often point out to teachers that getting to know the moon and its many features can help cross-pollinate ordinary everyday subjects . Mixing history  with writing  and the nomenclature of the moon is one way to challenge children to research and perhaps produce an essay while  getting familiar with software  such as Virtual Moon Atlas in the course of their activities.  These interactions of digital programs with curriculum subjects feeds directly into the educational agenda of the EU , UNESCO and the OECD


Deirdre Kelleghan

About Deirdre Kelleghan

Deirdre Kelleghan is an Astronomer, Artist and Educator. She invents designs and enacts creative workshops to help children understand our solar system through drawing . Her activities take place in schools, libraries, science centres and observatories in Ireland and abroad. In practice her work is always engaged in the NOW. A recurring feature of connecting with her audiences is being actively attentive to astronomy or space events that are ongoing in real time. ICT ,eLearning and blended learning play a key role in many of her programs. Her Action Sun workshop opened Building the Scientific Mind 2013 Colloquium at Bosscha Observatory West Java Indonesia. This was a UNESCO / The Learning Development Institute event. In 2011 Deirdre was awarded the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education. The workshop was Deadly Moons the awarding body was the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is co author of Sketching the Moon an Astronomical Artists Guide. Deirdre is a contributing artist / writer for BBC Sky at Night Magazine . Deirdre has recently been invited to write for The Vatican Observatory Foundation. Deirdre Science / Art Workshops for children support • The primary school curriculum • eLearning • ICT in Education • Astronomy • Astronomy software • Enquiry Based Learning • Drawing skills • Observation She has her own blog: http://www.deirdrekelleghan.net. You can follow her on Twitter, and Facebook

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