Our Moon, the Earth’s nearest celestial neighbour, is close enough to show obvious change in appearance with the unaided eye, the phase of our Moon changing from one night to the next, from ‘New Moon’, through ‘First Quarter’, to ‘Full Moon’, to ‘Last Quarter’, and then back to ‘new’ once more, all in the space of a month! Even without optical aid, the pattern of dark patches on a lighter background can be seen with relative ease. What’s more, being the second brightest natural object in the sky, for the outright beginner, the Moon is very easy to find!
Seen through binoculars or a small telescope the Moon is transformed into a three dimensional globe, awash with dark ‘seas’ cast upon a lighter background, and pockmarked with a myriad of impact craters, some of which possess splendid systems of bright rays stretching a considerable distance across the Lunar surface. With even a small telescope, the degree of detail that may be discerned, and its changing appearance over the course of a Lunation is more than enough to provide endless interest and fascination.
The SPA Lunar Section aims to encourages its members to observe the Moon and record its features, be that by the traditional method of drawing what the observer can see, or more often in this day and age, by imaging, be that the relatively simple method of holding a smartphone camera up to the eyepiece, or a dedicated CCD camera, with associated image enhancing software.
SPA Lunar Section members are welcome to pursue their own individual lunar interests but they may also participate in a range of special lunar observing projects — you’ll find these listed in the Reference section tabbed above.
If you’re a member of the SPA and wish to give the Moon more than just a casual glance, please don’t hesitate to forward your observations or images to the SPA Lunar Section. Good observing!
David Graham, Lunar Section Director