Jack Schmidling Productions, Inc.
18016 Church Road ~ Marengo IL 60152
Phone:815 923 0031 ~

Extragalactic Photos Galactic Photos JSP Homepage

The Moon presents many challenges to the astronomer, both amateur and professional. Most surprising to the lay person is the fact that the Moon is most likely to be unwelcome in the night sky unless one is particularly interested in studying it. It's brightness makes seeing much of anything else just about impossible, even with a large telescope. It's just a less obvious example of being able to see no stars at all during the day. Not only can dim objects not be seen but the bright moonlight quickly fogs photographic film making photography of deep sky objects impossible.

One of the major advantages that the Hubble Space Telescope has over land based telescopes is that, being above the atmosphere, it has no such problems. As long as it is not pointed directly at the Sun or Moon or Earth, it sees only black sky because there is no atmosphere to disburse the light.

The other thing that surprises the inexperienced is the fact that the most boring moon is the full moon. Detail on the moon is seen by virture of contrast. Strong shadows make mountains and craters stand out in high relief. Full Moon is Noon on the Moon and there are no shadows and as a result, nothing much can be seen through a telescope.

Having said all that, the Moon is certainly the most interesting object we can look at with a telescope in terms of detail available. We just need to plan on viewing a particular detail at the time when the contrast is best and of course when there is sunlight on the detail.

It may also come as a surprise that much of today's amateur moon imaging is far superior to even the best professional photos of a decade or two ago. The reason for this is the CCD revolution. The advent of solid state cameras of very high light sensitivity has made extrememly short exposures possible. The fundamental problem with high resolution imaging is what astronomers call "seeing" or atmospheric turbulence. However, even at its worst, there are moments when acceptable images can be taken. These are too short to capture on film, but are routine for video. With video running at 30 frames per second, thousands of images can be stored in a few minutes. These can be stepped through, one at a time until a good one is found and then digitized for the computer.

One disadvantage of video is the small field available on cameras small enough to use on a telescope so full disk coverage requires special techniques. The following collection of moon images contains both film and video images. For more information on video, see... [Video Imaging Page]

Full Moon

This view of the full Moon is oriented to the way it looks to the naked eye, with the "Man-in-the-Moon" upright, on the right side of the Moon.

A telescope normally inverts the image and all the rest on this page are inverted. The optics needed to erect it again always add some distortion. Unlike bird watching, it makes no difference if the moon is upsided down so the compromise is normally not made.

[4 day moon]

4 Day Moon

This photo was taken 4 days after New Moon and one can now see much detail near the terminator. This is the region where the Sun is just rising or setting and the margin between light and dark.

[First qtr]

First Quarter Moon

This photo was taken at First Quarter or about 7 days after New Moon.



Copernicus Crater can be seen in binoculars,
in the center of a very large area containing relatively few craters.


The crater is very young, geologically speaking and resulted from a massive meteor fall about 800 million years ago. It is about 60 miles in diameter and the rim is 12,600 ft above the floor. The tallest central peak is 2000 feet high.


The Serpentine Ridge in Mare Serenitatis

Posidonius is the large crater above left.

This photo was taken with a 35 mm camera and a 2 x telephoto extender on the 10" Newt. The exposure was one second on unhypered Techpan.


The following are video images of the Crater Gassendi. The first at prime focus and the second at 2X with the 16" Newt.

[plato] [Copernicus]

Prime Focus

2X Projection

Mare Nectaris and Associated Craters

The Full Moon photo is to locate the area of the higher resolution images. It is a Techpan photo taken with the 8" Newt at prime focus. The rest of the images are single video frames taken with the 16" Newt at EFL of 72" or 144".

Arrow Points to Mare Nectaris

Mare Nectaris, EFL 72"
Craters Theophilus, Cyrillus and Catharina

[m104] [m104]

Crater Plinius (Pliny)

The Full Moon photo is to locate the area of the higher resolution images. It is a Techpan photo taken with the 8" Newt at prime focus. The rest of the images are single video frames taken with the 16" Newt at EFL of 72" or 144".

Crater Plinius can be seen in binoculars, straddling between the Sea of Tranquility and the Sea of Serenity. It is about 27 miles in diameter and the rim is about 10,000 feet above the floor.

Arrow Points to Plinius Crater

Plinius Crater


On the left of this image is the crater Theophilus with Cyrillus to it's right but who is that strange fellow looking on?


So-called LTP are as elusive as flying saucers and the below photo seemed at first as though I had captured one. The photo is an enlarged view of the mountains and craters below and to the right of Plato, and clearly shows multiple craters at two locations where only one can be found on any previous photo.

[plato] [plato]

The better image on the right is a much shorter CCD exposure and you will note single craters where the photo shows double.

One such LTP would really present an exciting possibility but two immediately forces one to think that something moved during the exposure, simply creating a double exposure.

However a thorough search of the negative produced not a single additional example of double features. So how do we explain it?

The simple answer is that it is a "seeing" related phenomena. That is what astronomers call the effects of atmospheric turbulence. In this case, it acted like another lens that moved during the exposure. This is one of the reasons I have switched to video imaging of the moon. The situation would have been obvious by viewing previous and subsequent frames.


To amuse ourselves while El Nino persists in preventing serious astrophotography for what is pushing 4 months now, I have taken an interesting event which occured on one of those rare nights when it was clear enough, long enough, to see the moon and offer it as a challenge to find the real brains of the net.

After mucking around under the table during a video session, I looked at the monitor just as a gross bit of atmospheric turbulence rushed across the screen. Looking up at the moon, I saw an airplane moving away from it. Fortunately, the tape was running and when I backed it up to view it, there it was, in all it's glory, making a flyby over Mare Tranquilitatis.

The plane appears on 9 frames and I have reproduced 6 of them here. The object of the test is to tell us, based on the frames here and other relevant data that you are responsible for, two things:

1. Which is closer, the plane or the moon?

2. How far was the plane from my telescope?

If you answer the first one correctly, report to NASA and begin training as John Glen's backup.

If you answer them both correctly, John Glen will be your back up.

If you answer the second correctly but miss the first, report to TWA for their next flight to the moon.

[6946] [6946] [6946]
[6946] [6946] [6946]

Please post your answers and how you derived them to: sci.astro.amateur.

For those not up to the real challenge, ponder the "F" in Frame 1. It marks the location of Tranquility Base, where "The Eagle has landed".

For more information on video, see: [Video Imaging Page]

~ [Return to top of page]

JSP homepage