Section Report 20.05.13

David Finnigan is a regular contributor to the SPA Lunar Section. David stems Halesowen in the West Midlands, and uses a 305mm Schmidt Cassegrain telescope, in conjunction with a ZWO ASE 120 MMS camera. David took this excellent image of the Schickard, Wargentin, Nasmyth and Phocylides group of craters, located near the north-west limb of the Moon, on the evening of 6th February, 2020.

Schickard, Wargentin and Phocylides, imaged by David Finnigan


This is a fascinating group of craters which never fails to catch the attention the eye of the observer when located close to the terminator of the almost full Moon. The large, northern formation, Schickard, is listed by Rukl as a vast walled plain, with a partially flooded floor, 227 km in diameter. South of Schickard is Nasmyth, named after the renowned Scot James Nasmyth, a pioneer of steam, but also a renowned selenographer. As the eye continues to traverse south, we come to Phocylides, a peak on the eastern wall where Nasmyth and Phocylides meet, throws a distinctive shadow across that region. But the star of the show must be strange Wargentin, this 84 km formation appears to have filled to the rim with lava to form a level ‘plateau’ upon which at least one wrinkle ridge may be made out.  On David’s image, Wargentin has been captured as it emerges from the Lunar night.

This area has also caught the attention, on more than one occasion, of Larry Todd, who observes from Dunedin, on the South Island of New Zealand. Larry uses an OMC200 Maksutov Cassegrain telescope, in conjunction with a ZWO 122 camera, and made this image on 15th June, 2019.

Schickard, Wargentin and Phocylides imaged by Larry Todd

This is a cropped smartphone image taken by David Graham on the evening of 6th February 2020, using his 230mm f13.5 Maksutov Cassegrain telescope. Nomenclature has been added to aid identification of the craters under discussion in this report. The ‘elevated plateau’ appearance of Wargentin is quite marked on this image.

Annotated image of the Schickard group of craters to show nomenclature.


The waxing, gibbous Moon, age 12 days, image by Paul Sutherland on 6th February 2020.


Paul Sutherland took the above image on 6th February 2020 from Walmer in Kent, using a Fuji X-T10 camera attached to a 66mm Lightwave refractor. Of interest is an ‘indentation’ on the southern limb of the Moon, caused by the crater Bailly. The image below is a cropped smartphone image of the southern limb of the Moon, also taken by David Graham that same evening using the equipment previously described. Bailly is shown in relation to the Schickard group of craters.

Southern limb of Moon. Image by David Graham using 230mm Maksutov Cassegrain telescope on 6th February 2020.

Bailly is described by Rukl as a ‘vast walled plain, 304 km in diameter’. On 6th February 2020, the formation was still largely in shadow, but the rim of crater ‘Bailly B’, within the main crater, was catching the morning Sun.

Southern limb of the Moon on 6th February 2020. Cropped smartphone image by David Graham using a 230mm Maksutov Cassegrain telescope, near Richmond, North Yorkshire.


The Penumbral Lunar Eclipse of 2020 January 10th

A penumbral lunar eclipse, the first of four visible in 2020, occurred early in the evening of January 10th, for observers in the British Isles. As this was a penumbral, and not a total or partial lunar eclipse, none of the Moon lay within the Earth’s umbral shadow, which was to the south of the Moon. This image, captured by Paul Sutherland with a handheld lens from Walmer in Kent, shows the mid part of the event, which was at approximately 19h 11m UT.

The partial lunar eclipse on 2019 July 16th

In 2019, observers were treated to two lunar eclipses.  The eclipse on January 21st was a total one, though it meant getting up before dawn to see it, at the coldest part of the year! Hence it would be mainly diehard enthusiasts that made the effort to see the first of the two.

The eclipse on July 16th was  partial, with the Moon passing through the southern sector of the Earth’s shadow cone, with the maximum phase occurring at 21h 32m UT, when 65% of the Moon lay in the umbral shadow. Read more

Section Report 2018.8.1

A certain law governs all astronomers’ attempts to observe events in the sky – you know the one I mean! It was certainly working against us Friday 27th of July when the much-publicised total eclipse was itself eclipsed by thick clouds. The ensuing thunderstorm brought us some much-needed rain but why, after weeks of clear skies, did it have to come on that particular night? Read more

Section Report 2018.7.12

It’s ironic that, after an autumn and winter when clear skies were a rarity, the summer should provide so many clear nights at a time when  it hardly gets dark! Judging by the increase in the number of images sent in to the Lunar Section many members chose to turn their telescopes on the brighter objects that were visible and these, of course, include the Moon. Read more