The Lakes and Seas of the East Home

Move your mouse over the picture to see the names of the various features.

I, like so many lunar photographers, tend to concentrate on the craters.  However in some ways the maria are more interesting.  They represent enormous plains of lava that flooded across the Moon filling the great basins formed by the impact of giant projectiles.  This volcanic activity is believed to have begun some 4,300 million years ago.  The major eruptions probably ended about 3,000 million years ago but some activity is believed to have gone on until about 1,000 million years ago.  Thus volcanism was important on the Moon for some 3,000 million years, a substantial part of the Moon's existence.  This lava must have been much more mobile than most terrestrial lavas because there is evidence that they spread over hundreds of kilometres before solidifying.  The edges of these flows can be seen when the Sun is low and some are no more than a few metres thick.  The chemical compositions of many of these lavas are now known from samples brought back by the Apollo astronauts and their distributions across the Moon can be deduced from spectral studies from Earth or from lunar orbit.  (I have been experimenting with grossly-exaggerated, colour pictures to see if they can show these different types of lava.  You can see some of these pictures elsewhere on this site, but I am not yet convinced that the colours correlate with the lavas.  Frankly I don't know what they show.)  Click on the image to see the colour-enhanced version of this image;  it is much less vivid than usual.  Use the Back button to get back here.  Click here to see a picture of part of this area captured in infra-red light on which the maria stand out even more clearly.

Mare Imbrium

This picture shows the lava deposits on the eastern side of the Moon.  In the mouseover I have omitted the prefix 'Mare', but I was surprised at how many little dark patches have names starting with Lacus (lake);  this prefix is abbreviated to 'L.'.  In fact there are so many in the region between Maria Serentitatis and Vaporum that I have been unable to include them all.  Strange too, isn't it, how so often the smallest features have the longest names - a nightmare for the mouseovers.
This picture, originally made in colour but rendered here in monochrome, is a mosaic of five pictures taken on the night of the 12th November 2005 when the moon was 11.4 days old (or about three days before full Moon).  I am quite surprised how many bright little craters show up here.  The most obvious one, Proclus just to the west of Mare Crisium, shows as a bright ring and the ejecta rays are clearly visible.  The way these rays are distributed, especially the two bright ones to the west, indicate that this crater was formed by a missile coming in at a low angle from the south-west.
It is impossible to give meaningful scale markers on areas as large as this.  The direction of North is generally towards the top of the picture and in the area of Serenitatis is not far off directly towards the top, but as you go east, the direction of North gradually rotates to the left.  To help a little I have shown, as a dashed line, where I think the lunar equator is.  For scale, Crisium is about 400 kilometres and Serenitatis about 670 kilometres in diameter.

Date and Time: 12th November 2005 20:10 to 20:20 UT
Camera: ToUcam 740K
Telescope: LX200 with 0.33 focal reducer, IR-block and Neodymium filters
Capture: K3CCDTools. 0% gamma, 1/500", 22% gain, 450 to 500 frames
Processing: Registax. 120 to 130 frames stacked. Wavelet 1 = 10, 2 = 5.

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