On the shores of a Stormy Ocean

Hevelius and neighbors 

Hevelius & neighbours

Sketched on the 29th May 2007 from my home observatory using a Antares 105mm F15
Achromatic refractor. Working at 163x through a Denk binoviewer.

Sketch made on a black spiral bound Daler-Rowney 6″x6″ sketch pad using a
combination of Conte sticks, watercolour and pastel pencils. Image scanned in
Greyscale but unprocessed.
Dale Holt

View from a high point

 Hipparchus and Albateginius

Walled Plain Craters Hipparchus and Albateginius
Close to the visible center of the lunar nearside are the north-south crater pair
Hipparchus and Albateginius. On this evening from my observing site they were on
the sunrise terminator. Hipparchus at 150 km. in diameter is the largest and
oldest of the pair dating from the pre-Nectarian period (4 billion years ago). At
and internal to the northeast rim of Hipparchus lies crater Horrocks (30 km.) with
its bright rim and the deep dark center.

Just beyond the Hipparchus crater rim to the southeast is the young, small (15
km.) crater Pickering also with a well illuminated rim. Near the center of
Hipparchus crater Hipparchus X is visible and between it and Horrocks a small
narrow rille was easily seen which is parallel to Rima Reaumur lying out beyond
the Hipparchus rim to the northwest  (not sketched). Between Hipparchus and
Albateginius are the old craters Halley (37 km.) and Hind (31 km.). Most of the
rim of crater Albateginius (139 km.) is brightly illuminated by the sun as are two
high points within the “well of darkness”. The illuminated point closest to the
center is the top of a central peak. The other bright point closer to the rim is
the high point on the margin of crater Klein (44km) sitting in darkness. At the
beginning of the sketch these two points were not visible but appeared about 45
minutes after I started.

I tried to picture in my mind what the view would be like if you could stand on
either of these high points and look out and down. Wouldn’t that be a sight?

  For this sketch I used: black Strathmore 400 Artagain paper, white and black Conte’
  pastel pencils and a blending stump. Contrast was slightly increased after scanning.
  Telescope: 10 inch f/ 5.7 Dobsonian and 6 mm eyepiece 241X
  Date: 5-24-2007 2:05-3:20 UT
  Temperature: 23° C (74° F)
   Partly cloudy with haze, light winds
  Seeing:  Antoniadi II
  Colongitude 356.7 °
  Lunation 7.28 days
  Illumination 52 %
  Frank McCabe

Cup of nectar


Crater Bohnenberger in Eastern Mare Nectaris
From my location, this evening presented the best observing conditions since June
of last year. As the sun set in the west-northwest the crescent moon was riding
about 55° above the horizon, so I spent about hour looking for potential targets
to sketch. Crater Taruntius presented an interesting sketching target with its
central peak and unusual wall but I wanted to sketch closer to the terminator. I
finally settled on crater Bohnenberger just west of the Lunar Pyrenees Mountains
that define the eastern edge of the Sea of Nectar.

Bohnenberger is an old Pre-Imbrium crater 33 km diameter. Bohnenberger has a pair
of broad central peaks, a break in its northern wall and a crater on its western
floor. Crater Bohnenberger A about the same size (30 km) with a bright, shallow,
flat floor can be seen to the south with 12 km crater G between them. Some 100 km
to the west of Bohnenberger A, crater Rosse could be seen among the lunar ridges
in the Sea of Nectar. The high walls of Rosse were brightly lit against the dark
frozen lava of the mare. The dark shallow crater about the same size as Rosse at
the bottom of the sketch is crater Gaudibert H. Within the region of the sketch a
great deal more could be seen but was beyond my ability to record in a reasonable
time as the shadows and light continued to change.
  For this sketch I used: black Strathmore 400 Artagain paper 9”x12”, white and
  black Conte’ pastel pencils and a blending stump.
  Before submitting I changed slightly the contrast using Imageenhance software
  Telesccope: 10 inch f/ 5.7 Dobsonian and 6 mm eyepiece 241X
  Date: 4-22-2007 1:35-2:40 UT
  Temperature: 20° C (69° F)
  Clear, calm
  Seeing:  Antoniadi  I-II
  Colongitude 325.7 °
  Lunation 4.5 days
  Illumination 27.5 %
  Frank McCabe

A bright note in his Music of the the Spheres

Kepler and rays 

Crater Kepler and its Rays
At nearly 12 days into the current lunation sunlight is bathing young crater
Kepler and its extensive ray system. Kepler falls into the category of a smallish
complex crater (31 km in diameter and 2.75 km deep) with a low peak rising from an
otherwise small flat central floor. Most of the floor is covered with slumped wall
debris. A small part of the inner wall appeared terraced. Crater Kepler lies
between the Oceanus Procellarum and the Mare Insularum both of which are made of
dark lavas. Very prominent rays extend from the rampart and ejecta blanket well
beyond the crater rim for more than 300 km. Some of the rays, especially in the
east, overlap rays of other craters such as Copernicus.

Crater Kepler was named by the Jesuit astronomer Giovanni Battista Riccioli about
28 years after the death of Johannes Kepler. He also named Crater Tycho after
Tycho Brahe, the man with the accurate data measurements that helped make Kepler

West northwest of Kepler the large old crater close to the terminator is Marius.
Using a higher magnification ocular than that used in this drawing, I could see
several domes to the north of the crater in very good grazing light. Kepler is a
favorite crater target of mine as the moon approaches full phase.
  For this sketch I used: black Strathmore 400 Artagain paper 9”x12”, white and
  black Conte’ pastel pencils and a blending stump.
  Telesccope: 10 inch f/ 5.7 Dobsonian and 9 mm eyepiece 161X
  Date: 4-29-2007 2:45-3:45 UT
  Temperature: 18° C (65° F)
  Clear, calm
  Seeing:  Antoniadi  III
  Colongitude  51.8 °
  Lunation 11.6 days
  Illumination 90.5 %
  Frank McCabe

Brightest Heliocentrist


When I visit the Moon with my telescope, unless I’m working with friends on a collaborative project, I like to see what takes my fancy when I reach the terminator. Invariably something catches your eye and just won’t let it go, that is what I go for, he who shouts the loudest. On the evening of Saturday April 28th it turned out to be Aristarchus magically illuminated along the terminator.
I used my Antares 105mm F14.3 refractor, viewing through a Denk binoviewer
yeilding 163x.
Using a black sketching pad and a mix of watercolour pencils, pastel pencils and
conte sticks after 15 minutes this was the result.
Dale Holt

Schiller Sextet

Schiller Sextet 

 This composite image started out as a single white pastel on black paper
sketch posted on the ‘Cloudy Nights’ sketching forum. As the discussion
around it evolved, other Cloudy Nighters posted their own sketches of this
distinctive crater, and I began to construct the montage seen here in it’s
final form. It is fascinating to see the same lunar feature captured in so
many different styles and with different media. Between us we have covered
nearly three years of Schiller observations, each at around the same
lunation stage of 11-12 days when the local lighting is advantageous and
dramatic. The sketching media used varied between white pastel (or Conte’)
on black paper, and graphite pencil (or charcoal) on white paper.

Equipment used (and magnification):

Sally Russell, 105mm F/6 refractor, 480x
Michael Rosolina, 8″ F/10 SCT, 200-170x
Rich Handy, 12″ SCT, 639x
Eric Graff, 6″ F/6 reflector, 240x
Jeremy Perez, 6″ F/8 Newtonian, 240x
Erika Rix, 70mm ETX, 88x

(With the kind permission of Michael, Rich, Eric, Jeremy and Erika, and with
my thanks to them for generously sharing their sketches and making this
project possible.)
Sally Russell


About 4.6 billion years ago, few million years after the formation of the proto Earth from the accretion of planetesimals in the nascent Solar nebula, our still molten world would suffer an impact from a another Mars sized protoplanet that would tear almost one fifth of the Earth’s crust and mantle away and scatter a debris cloud into Earth orbit. Soon thereafter this material would coalesce into the early Moon, the building of which would continue as major impacts accumulated over the next few billion years. Although at this time in our early Moon’s past much of the debris had already been swept clear of its orbital path, a close look at Luna herself would have revealed several stragglers, moons of our Moon in close tow. Jostled and buffeted by gravitational forces, these moons were either lost to space, impacted the early Earth, or were pulled inexorably until they plummeted to the lunar surface. Such impacts from degraded orbits share a common attribute, not only on the Moon, but on the other bodies of the Solar System as well. They all show an extremely shallow impact angle, usually in the range of 2 to 3 degrees to the surface. When such a moon strikes a body it will impart most of its kinetic energy longitudinally along its path, carving out a long elliptical shaped crater and sending ejecta laterally across the range. Working in tandem with these very oblique impacts are the tidal stresses that can break apart a small moon, thereby lengthening the “footprint” of the event by allowing space between successive strikes, much as seen in secondary crater chain formation.

Between 3.85 and 3.92 Billion years ago during the Nectarian epoch, one small gleaming moon was tugged and pulled, probably influenced by various mascons that had already developed in the gravitational field of the Moon. Falling out of orbit, it would follow a trajectory that would take it around the far side for the last time. As the little moon fell, tidal stresses split it into two or three large pieces, which traveled together as they continued their descent over the limb and around the southwest highlands, over the craters Gruemberger, Blancanus and finally Scheiner, where they impacted into the Zucchius-Schiller basin, creating the very oblong 174 km x 69 km crater, Schiller. Over the course of the next several hundred million years the flow of mare lavas would fill the basin and the floor of the long deep gouge, covering some the evidence of the violence of this event. So next time you are gazing at the Moon’s southwestern quadrant, stop by Schiller and remember when our Moon had moons.

Rich Handy
Poway, California

Between the ears of the rabbit

Craters Gutenberg and Goclenius 

Craters Gutenberg and Goclenius
    In the mid 1600’s Johannes Hevelius named this highland region east of the Sea
of Fertility Colchis (Land of the Golden Fleece) within a few years Giovanni
Riccioli named the same region Terra Manna. Two hundred years later both of
these names disappeared as the craters of the region continued to be named.
This lunar surface being erased by the shadow of the terminator early this morning
is between the ears of “The Rabbit in the Moon”. The largest crater with an
illuminated floor is battered Gutenberg, a 4 billion year old 75 km diameter
formation with a large breaching impact crater (Gutenberg E) on its northeastern
rim. East of the crater the widest and deepest part of Rimae Goclenius was glimpsed
as the seeing periodically improved. Domes in this area could not be seen with
certainty due to poor seeing. Southeast of Gutenberg crater Goclenius a 56 km
Nectarian age crater appears round with a floor in complete darkness. Also close to
the terminator are craters Magelhaens through Colombo.

For this sketch I used: black Strathmore 400 Artagain paper, white and black Conte’
pastel pencils and a blending stump.
Telesccope:10 inch f/ 5.7 Dobsonian and 9 mm eyepiece (161x)
Date: 4-6-2007 7:08-8:20 UT
Temperature: -1.6°C (29°F)
Partly cloudy, breezy
Seeing: Antoniadi IV
Colongitude 133.2 °
Lunation 18.2 days
Illumination 89 %

Frank McCabe

Lunar luminaries

2006 07 07

Lansberg/Gamma and Delta

“Wednesday night (Thursday for UT), was a practice session for imaging with my
Rebel.  I finally bought a t-ring adaptor during a star party a few weeks ago and
had some fun playing with the new toy. The guys in the DSLR forum are giving me some
great pointers.  Feels very strange entering that realm, but I have a feeling it
will compliment the sketching well for my observations.  Plus gives me yet another
way to enjoy this hobby to the fullest!

It was then time to put the camera away and dig out my sketch kit.  Paul, being the
thoughtful husband that he is, bought Tom L’s binoviewers for me last month.  Tom,
if you’re reading this, I absolutely LOVE them!  Wow!  Thank you both so much!!!
I’ve been having a lot of fun with black Strathmore paper and Conte’ crayons for my
solar work, so with Rich in mind, I got up the nerve to try my first lunar sketch
with this media. Lansberg and the surrounding craters were my main targets that
night.  I explored the terminator, tried to count craterlets in Plato, and admired
Copernicus (and was tempted to try it again, as the last time I tried to sketch that
beauty, my sketch was cut short and it was never completed).

Lansberg is from the Imbrian period and is about 41km.  The central mountains stuck
out like two eyeballs in a dark room and I was pleased to see some terracing.  All
the little craterlets around Lansberg belong to it with Kunowsky D being the
exception to the NW.  Reinhold is trying to slip into the scene to the NE, but got
its toe stuck in the door.  Montes Riphaeus was very dramatic, or at least compared
to the rest of the scene in that area.


After a great day today, which included solar observing (boy, that sun feels
great!), I set up with the binoviewers again tonight.  Although seeing was poor, I
went ahead and bumped up magnification with 8mm TV Plossls (love that EP so much, I
had to get another one!).  It was good enough to support the level of detail needed
to observe domes.  Had I wanted to jump into a few complex craters, I believe a 20mm
would have been best.  So, domes it was and why not a pair?  Mons Gruithuisen Delta
and Gamma were flagging me down and I just could not resist. 

Gruithuisen Domes Delta and Gamma

They are also from the Imbrian period and close to 20km each.  Looking at VMA, Delta
is classified as a mountain and Gamma is a dome.  Rukl calls both of them a domelike
mountain massif.  Hmmm, let’s see what Chuck Woods has to say about them.  Aha!  He
calls them domes, most likely formed of silicic volcanic rocks.  For more reading on
this, see The Modern Moon, page 37.  I would love to be one of the geologists that
Chuck suggests may someday bang on the domes with their rock hammers to see what
they are made of.
It was a bit disappointing that I didn’t see the summit crater on Gamma, but there
was an obvious darkened area on the western top portion of it.  I loved buzzing
around in the all the little dips and valleys to the north of it, though.  The
little raised line between Gamma and Gruithuisen K looked like a pea pod. Isn’t the
lava covered floor beautiful in that region?”
Sketches done with black Strathmore Artagain paper and white Conte’ crayons

Erika Rix

Zanesville, Ohio

Between Serenity and Tranquility

Plinius and Dawes 

Craters Plinius and Dawes
After more than 23 days of very cold, cloudy, winter weather an approaching warm front got me out under the moon and stars on this clear, transparent night of good seeing. I centered the telescope field of view on craters Plinius and Dawes near the lunar terminator. This is the region I selected for my sketching. Plinius is the largest (43km) crater in the sketch. Its central peak and irregular, cratered floor are hidden in darkness but a hint of its terraced walls can be seen on the illuminated inner west margin. Further to the west the peaks near Promontorium Archeruia are catching the rising sunrays. About 55 km to the south of Plinius is crater Ross, a 26 km diameter crater identified only by its sunlit rim. This crater rests in the Sea of Tranquility. To the northeast of Plinius near the edge of the Sea of Serenity is the 19 km crater Dawes, its floor mostly in shadow. Directly to the north of Plinius the rilles of Plinius were clearly visible. In addition a small part of Dorsum Nicol is also seen. All of these features are positioned on the dark colored lavas at the boundary between the two above mentioned seas. The grazing sunlight helped to enhance the changes in topography.

Frank McCabe
  Sketch details:
  For this sketch I used: black Strathmore 400 Artagain paper 9”x12”, white and
  black Conte’ pastel pencils and a soft leather blending stump.
  Telescope: 10 inch f/ 5.7 Dobsonian and 6 mm eyepiece
  Date: 2-23-2007 1:05-1:45 UT
  Temperature: 0C ( 32F)
  Clear, calm
  Seeing:  Antoniadi  II
  Colongitude 339 degrees
  Lunation 5.4 days
  Illumination 35.7%

Entrance to a frozen Hell

Eratosthenes entrance to a frozen Hell

There was a very thick mist that night, and the moon was hardly visible behind the clouds. I  put the scope outside with no intent for observing, as I wanted to adjust a new home made focuser. It was a very pleasing surprise to discover that there was absolutely no turbulence at all on the Moon.
Despite the thick clouds, the light and contrasts were still strong, and everything was frozen, no movement at all. I jumped on my pencils, and made a draft of Eratosthenes, one of my favorite craters on the Moon, maybe my favorite. I like the long and thin design of the Apennine mountains terminating like a lyra, with that black and strange hole, just at the limit of infinite darkness.

Pierre Desvaux

– Medium used: White Conté on black Canson paper
– Telescope: Home made 16″ Dobson, Nagler 12, barlow 2X Celestron
– Date: December 2006
– Place: Blanzy, Bourgogne, France

Pacific places amidst “magnificent desolation”

Stofler and environs

Distinctive crater Stofler resides in the midst of the dense and chaotic crater field of the southern hemisphere of the Moon. One clear but very chilly evening in January 2007, the challenge of trying to capture the view was more than I could resist – this is my attempt. The sketch was carried out using white and black Conte’ pencils and chalk pastels on black ‘Canford’ paper. I began by marking out the main crater shapes using white Conte’ pencil, then I used a small chunk of white chalk pastel, broadside, to lay down the mare regions, blending this with a fingertip and a small cloth. More highlights were added (white Conte’ pencil), and a putty eraser used to define some of the features (and shadow extent) by negative drawing where I removed areas of pastel previously laid down. More detail was added with white Conte’ pencil as I went along, but there really was far too much to capture and I realized that I would have to quit while I was ahead and finish my outside drawing time before the view changed substantially. Once back inside I tidied up the sketch, removing the inevitable unwanted pastel smudges with a putty eraser, and re-defining some of the darkened inner crater edges with black Conte’ pencil, then using blending stumps (with touches of both white and black chalk pastel) to make final tiny adjustments. The sketch has been inverted and rotated in paint shop pro to give the standard orientation.

Sally Russell

Date: 25 January 2007

Time: 21.10-22.00 UT

Equipment: 105mm AstroPhysics APO/bino-viewer (mag x60)

Lunation: 7.3 days, 48.7% illumination

Sketch size: 6″ x 8″

The southern highlands of the Moon are almost completely dominated by craters in the 20 to 100 km size range, randomly scattered about the region. One way to determine relative ages of craters is to note which overlay or superpose over other craters or features, and the crater that obliterates or partially modifies another crater is usually younger. It is this principle that is the foundation of a stratigraphic approach to understanding lunar geological history. In the lunar highlands there is no shortage of overlapping or partially modified craters, and as Sally points out this region is about as densely chaotic as any on the Moon. A careful look at her beautiful sketch also reveals one of the great unsolved mysteries of the Moon. Many craters have smooth flat floors and the adjacent surface topography between these craters is also relatively smooth. The big question is: what is responsible for these smooth areas? Do the smooth floors and intercrater terrane reflect episodes of highland volcanism?  Or perhaps these areas are covered with thick layers of ejecta that settled out across the surface as a result of this large scale stochastical gardening.

Famously floor fractured

Famously floor fractured

Lunar crater Petavius

The end of winter in the Midwest can sometimes produce cold, clear, wind free nights. On this particular night the waning gibbous Moon cleared the tall barren trees where I had set up my 10″ scope to observe and sketch. After examining the Moon awhile at low power I selected a target close to the terminator for sketching. Near the edge of the southeastern corner of the Sea of Fertility is the large ancient crater Petavius. Connected by a rampart to the west (just right of Petavius) is 57 km Wrottesley. To the east of Petavius buried deep in shadow is the Palitzsch Valley, asequence of overlapping craters that extends for nearly 112 km. The atmosphere was in such turmoil that much of the subtle detail was obscured at the time of this observation. The multiple mountain peaks on the floor of Petavius stood out as did the terraced walls and the 60 km long straight rille from the central peaks to the southwest rim. Even under conditions of poor seeing this is a rewarding crater to observe a couple of days past full Moon. If you missed it, try again 3 days past New Moon. From March to the end of spring the waxing crescent Moon is a great target in the Northern Hemisphere.

Frank McCabe

Sketch data:

For this sketch I used black Strathmore 400 Artagain paper 9″ x 12″, white and black Conte’ pastel pencils and a soft blending stump.

Telescope: 10 inch f/5.7 dobsonian and 6mm eyepiece

Date: 3-6-2007 2:45-3:30UT

Temperature: -6C (21 F) Clear Calm

Seeing: Antoniadi IV

Colongitude: 113.5 degrees

Lunation: 16.5 Days

Illumination: 95%