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
Exploring the Solar System
- Exploring the Solar System: The Mass of the Sun
- Marvellous Mars Drawing Workshop at Dunsink Observatory Dublin
- Astronomical Sketching – Education in action
- Stars Wonderful Stars at Wexford Town Library Ireland
- Get ready the Perseids are coming
- Space the final Frontier – World Space Week 2016
- On the richness of the lunar surface
- Dark Sky Magic at Ballycroy National Park Mayo Ireland
- Grand Finale – Painting inspired by the Cassini Mission to Saturn