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Mare Crisium

Mare Crisium Mare Crisium ©2018 Frederick Steiling
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Target Information
Main Target Designation(s) Mare Crisium
Companion Objects Mare Tranquillitatis
Date(s) of acquisition 01Feb2018
Location Sunset Hills, MO
Capture resolution 1280x960
Video source 240" at 2.546ms / 23fps
Stack 283 (5%) of 5656 frames
Video source 60" at 6.384ms / 23fps
Stack 142 (10%) of 1416 frames
Video source 60" at 6.561ms / 23fps
Stack 142 (10%) of 1416 frames
Video source 60" at 8.064ms / 23fps
Stack 142 (10%) of 1416 frames
Imager ZWO ASI120MM
Filters ZWO 1.25" LRGB
Telescope/Lens Orion 8" f/3.9 Astrograph
Focal Length 1600mm at f/7.8
Mount Celestron CGEM
Focuser Moonlite 2" Newtonian CR
Coma Corrector None
Collimator 2" Howie Glatter @ 650nm
Focusing Moonlite Mini V2 High-res Controller
Magnifiers Televue 2" Powermate 2x
Acquisition FireCapture 2.5
Guiding FireCapture 2.5
Processing AutoStakkert!3, Registax 6, PixInsight 1.8, Photoshop CC

The moon... in color?!

There's always more than meets the eye in space, and though we usually attribute this characteristic to distant galaxies and nebulae, it holds true for our nearest neighbor as well!  In what amounts to one of the crispest snapshots I've ever gotten of it thanks to a momentarily still atmosphere, this slice of the moon has a ton to discover, not the least of which are the subtle hue changes across the lunar surface.  Ranging from pale deep blues to rusty reds, these hue variations serve as excellent indicators as to the surface content.  Whereas the orange/red areas highlight areas rich in iron and magnesium, those with bluer tones boast rich titanium densities alongside iron.  While the moon is so bright to overpower our own vision's ability to discern these little nuances, there's once again nothing like a camera to reveal the bigger story.

Our interest doesn't stop with the colorful beauty, however.  The focus of this image is a large circular plain with a huge variety of interesting periodic landscapes embedded in a wild range of craters and flatlands beyond the reach of its walls.  Coined as the Mare Crisium (the "Sea of Crises"), this prominent lunar feature spans 375 miles in its longest dimension, about the same width of the state of Colorado.  On its eastern edge lie 2 small wrinkle ridges, Dorsa Tetyaev and Dorsa Harker, ranging 91 and 121 miles each.  Toward its west are a spattering of deep cratered pits that include Greaves (9 miles in diameter with 5900ft walls) and Picard (14 miles in diameter with 6700 ft walls).  Lastly in a disappearing act at the western edge are the "almost-ghost" craters Yerkes and Lick, spanning 19 and 22 miles in diameter and barely presenting themselves over a historic floor of lava that filled their original depth millions of years ago.

While it isn't intuitive to take extra time to shoot colored exposures on the moon, the benefit is quite evident in this gorgeous region.  The Mare Tranquillitatis to the southwest of this image is arguably one of the most titanium rich (i.e. blue) areas of the moon and makes for a striking appearance in this scene.  I hope a larger project in the future involves a high resolution mosaic of the entire moon at a focal length similar to this, but until then, I'm certain that if the conditions warrant it, I'll always gather RGB data on my lunar endeavors from here out to further unlock these otherwise hidden features of our closest neighbor.

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