The moon, like a flower
In heaven’s high bower,
With silent delight
Sits and smiles on the night.
William Blake, “Night,” Songs of Innocence
In honor of the 50th anniversary of man’s first step on the Moon–July 20, 1969–I am sharing more photos from a visit to the Huntsville Museum of Art, this time from the exhibit, A New Moon Rises: Views from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. The traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum “features amazing, large-scale high resolution photographs of the lunar surface.”
The images were captured by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) over the last decade. I snapped only a few photos because the lighting and reflection from the shiny displays made photographing a bit challenging, but here’s what I captured.
The “Global Views” display shows the South Pole, Far Side Mosaic, Near Side Mosaic, and the North Pole views of the Moon. You can find more details on these views by clicking here: Global Views.
My photograph of “High Noon on the Moon” was so filled with “people reflections” that it’s distracting, so I borrowed the image below from the Smithsonian website. [Click image to download or for more details]
The sunlight at noon minimizes shadows but enhances subtle differences in surface brightness. The dark material is mare basalt, a volcanic rock that formed when lava erupted and flooded large impact basins early in the Moon’s history. The brightest features are ejecta, deposits and bright rays of material thrown from relatively recent impact craters. Notice how dissimilar the near (upper left) and far (lower left) sides appear. –from the exhibit label
The lunar topographic map above “shows the highs and lows over nearly the entire Moon at a pixel scale of 300 meters (980 feet). The colors represent elevation, from lowest (purple to black) to highest (red to white). the map is centered on the Moon’s near side.” For the elevation scale and more images and details: Lunar Topography.
Although the moon looks “black and white to the naked eye,” if you look closely at this [partial] image, you can see hints of color.
The subtle variations in color seen here result from the differences in the chemical composition of the rocks and soil of the bright highlands and the dark lowlands.
The craters were probably my favorite of the displays. The two images below are from the Copernican Craters. The “ejecta patterns” make the craters look like works of art. Actually, they are masterpieces of nature in “outer space.”
These two impact craters have large, spectacular ejecta patterns of bright material thrown across the Moon’s surface. […] Each is incredibly well preserved: crisp crater rims, steep crater walls, and delicate small-scale ejecta patterns. The overhead sunlight highlights the brightness variations. –from the exhibit label
I’m holding photographs of another crater for a future post, so stay tuned.
We have marvelous views of the Moon and stars each time we step outside our home at night, but these gorgeous LROC photos give us things to look for and think about when we’re looking through the telescope.
I have a special “relationship” with the moon. My name, from the Sanskrit, means “moon” or “to shine like the moon.” Some say I live up to the name. I hope so. 😉