Saturday, August 6, 2011

Theophilus, Cyrillus & Catharina

 It is 9 p.m. on August 4 and I have walked out onto the back porch to see the moon. It is hanging conspicuously between two trees which stand beside the barn, as good a location as possible in that I can see the moon easily without stepping off the porch.

 That doesn't mean I won't round the garage anyway, just to have a look at the back yard, bereft of the sun for only a short while but grown dark enough in such short a time that I can feel winter in the sky even though the air is hot and heavy.

 Above me race bats, threading the opening, feasting on insects. I have never been able to determine ahead of time when I might find them there. Does it depend on the temperature mostly, the sky cover?

  Stepping back onto the porch, I have the camera on my Christmas tripod and I have it aimed roughly at the moon. I begin snapping a few shots and find this one to my liking.

 There, a third of the way up from the bottom is the prominent crater Theophilus. To the left is Cyrillus and swinging on to the lower left, Catharina. Each lies almost on the terminator when the moon is five days old (to be precise, this shot was taken at 9:27 p.m. and the moon was nearing 5.3 days).
 Theophilus is named after a 4th century Greek philosopher. The central mountain in this crater, quite visible in this shot due to the sun's angle, is 1400 meters ( 4593 feet ) high and actually has four summits. The crater itself is 4267 meters (14,000 feet) deep. It is amazing to me that it can be seen from Earth with no more than a digital camera (with a 20x zoom). Apollo 16 may have collected ejecta from this crater.

 Here, also, is an overview of the scene as I stood staring at the sky:

 The sky wasn't clear as I made the shots above but somewhat hazy, even clouded. Even when the moon was in the open, the sky was slightly fogged. I'm surprised the shots turned out as well as they did.
 Two barn lots dogs kept up their chorus the whole time I was out. One, just south of us, keeps an "oooooh" up through most nights. Another dog to the north, certainly on Hemple, seems to answer. The moon aggravates the noise but it compensates me this little while as I look up at it.