Astronomy App for your Computer 2012


Our September 2011 AL Reflector magazine article What am I going to observe tonight? encourages us to observe.  The important thing is to get started! 


Get started indoors: Bring up Virtual Moon Atlas (VMA) on your computer.  It's on your Astronomy the Works disc that Stan gave you, or you can download it online.  Need more help?


Here are some step-by-step beginner tips.  If you practice ahead with Virtual Moon, you will be prepared for observing the real moon outside.   We will help and answer questions as we all observe the moon through telescopes together.  FYI, lunar observing is mostly a review of the visible maria, crater hunting, and occasional search for other features.


1.  a. Set these directions on the left of your screen.

     b. Bring up & place Virtual Moon Atlas on the right. 

     c. Place the hard copy of your AL Lunar Club List nearby.

2.  To see the full moon and all maria, click Ephemeris, set the date (2012 01 08) and time (21:00), and click Complete.

3.  To check out the Terminator, the line between dark and light, change the date to 2011 11 04 and click Complete.

4.  Change the day up and down some.  Note:  This is a waxing, gibbous moon.  Go back to 2011 01 08 Full Moon.   

5.  Name and point to the 11 main Maria you can see.


6.  Near the bottom of the moon, see the rays from Tycho.  Follow the rays back to Tycho crater.  Can you see a center cone?

7.  Click on several craters south of Tycho and see if you can find Clavius.  If not, click on Information,  enter Clavius, and click Find.    

     Compare with the location of Tycho.  Now try again to find Clavius without Information Find.  This will train your mind and memory.

8.  Now enlarge the moon (with mouse roller wheel), and see the details of Clavius. 

9.  For more practice, find these craters, from south to north.  Find and record them on your AL Lunar List (date, time, equipment used).





Wilhelm (between Tycho & Terminator)


What does Rimae mean?

Rupes Recta











Kies Pi

Fra Mauro



Mons Apenninus

Palus Putredinis





Montes Alpes

Vallis Alpes





10.  Bring your AL Lunar List to our Lunar Observing.  We will have Virtual Moon Atlas to help you find them yourself through a telescope, using a low, and then a higher power eyepiece. 

       Or, place your AL Lunar List, and these directions on a small tea table, and your VMA program on a computer on a tea table right next to the first.  Put your telescope with a low and a high power eyepiece next to that.  Use a red flashlight.


11. Find several craters on VMA that are near the terminator.  Look for them with low power in the telescope.  Center. Switch to high power.


12.  Draw 2"x2" sketches of what you see on your AL Lunar List hard copy. 

       Will they remind you how to find and recognize them again later?


13.  After the full moon, the moon will rise later each night and Mare Crisium will begin to disappear in darkness.  Switch to observe in the mornings and daytime the waning, gibbous to crescent moon. 

     Two weeks after the full moon, you will be able to see a very thin sliver of the real moon in the west.  You can watch it move and become more visible each night.  You will see Mare Crisium reappear,  and several days later, Mare Tranquillitatis, Fecunditatis, and Nectaris.  After the quarter moon, we will be able to see parts of Mare Nubium and everything listed in 9. above. 


Clear skies,

Stan and Tedda


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