Moon Observations Assignment
NATS 1530 Su 2022
Submission deadline to eClass: 10 PM, EDT, Friday July 15, 2022
The Moon is familiar to everyone. Its monthly cycle of phases are readily visible and the full Moon in particular is often a source of interest to the news media. The Moon is a source of interest of Science articles, poetry, epic fictional stories and movies.
In this exercise however, we will introduce you to the “real” Moon, revealing craters, plains of dried lava, phases, etc., through both direct visual observations and CCD imaging using the 1-metre telescope at the Allan I. Carswell Observatory (AICO). Remember, when visiting the Observatory to view the Moon, dress appropriately for the weather. The temperature in the dome at the telescope will be the ambient temperature outside.
Each student will receive 2 (digital) images of the Moon (taken at the AICO) to analyze.
Reserving an Observing date
The best time (or at least the most convenient) to view the Moon is arguably around first quarter phase.
Observing will (likely) be done with the 40 cm telescope of the AICO, accessible on the Arboretum Parking Arcade. (Renovations to the observatories domes over the summer will preclude observing with the 1-metre telescope.)
Note that you do not have to attend an observing session to complete the assignment. However, you do have the opportunity to observe the Moon in essentially a “private” (class) session so you are encouraged to take this opportunity.
Appropriate dates will be made available to the class for viewing on eClass. Obviously viewing is weather dependent and thus several nights in June and July will be available for sign-up. Observing will begin normally between 8 and 9:00 PM on the dates available and conclude around an hour later. A viewing session will run no more than an hour (normally much less). If you sign up for a session and it is clear, please proceed to the observing location where staff will conduct the Observing session. Each session starts promptly at the time specified.
Please note that only 15 students will be allowed in each observing session to minimize wait time and maximize your enjoyment. Book early!
In-person Moon Observing
Upon arrival at the telescope, you will be given a quick summary of the telescope operation (including the all-important focusing process). You will then be given the opportunity to observe the Moon under low magnification. Think of this as a “Galileo moment”! Pay close attention to the variety of surface features and the roughness of the terrain especially near the terminator. For those interested in attempting a cell phone image, ask the staff about this possibility. (No guarantee on the success of such a photograph but many good images have been taken.)
1. Record the date and time of the Moon images you are provided. (1 mark)
2. Determine what the date of the last New Moon was prior to your Observing Session. (1 mark)
3. How “old” was the Moon (a number of days since the previous new Moon) on the date of your Observing session and what was its lunar phase? (1 mark)
4. Print your (PDF) images of the Moon sent to you following your Observing session. (I recommend to use a “Landscape” printing option.) Alternately to printing, use a program that will allow you to “mark up” the images. From your CCD images, identify and name three natural features. Mark the relocations on your CCD images. These can be mountains, craters, seas, etc. At least one of these features must be a crater. You will need to research lunar maps and features. (3 mark)
5. Name and identify where on your image one spacecraft mission from any nation resides. This can include a controlled landing or a crash site. Again, research will be required to identify such a location. (1 mark)
6. Once identified, briefly summarize (a couple of sentences each) the pertinent information about all four features such as their size, formation, date of impact, etc. (4 mark)
7. Mark on both the CCD images the cardinal directions (North, South, etc.) (1 mark)
8. Measure carefully in millimeters your identified crater from 4 above. Knowing its true size in kilometres, determine the scale of your image in kilometres per milimetre. Show your working. (2 mark)
9. Look up the average diameter of the Moon in kilometres. With your scale from 8 above, what would be the diameter of a lunar image in milimetres? (2 mark)
10. Inspect each of your two images. Decide where the least and the most heavily cratered sections on the images are located. Draw two, 5 cm boxes encompassing these two sections being sure not to include any portion of the terminator or limb. Carefully count the total number of craters
(ALL sizes) within each of the boxes and record the numbers. (2 mark)
11. What does the difference in the number of craters in each box suggest to you? Explain your reasoning. (2 mark)
12. Be sure to include the references you have used to locate and describe your lunar features. (1 mark)
Submission of the Assignment
On the course eClass website, you need to submit the responses to the above 12 questions along with the annotated lunar images you have used. The cover page should include your name, student number, course (PHYS 1470) and the date. Submit the assignment in a PDF format only. (You are permitted to include lunar images in a variety of picture formats.) Submission deadline is Friday July 15, 10 PM. Late submissions will incur a 10% per hour penalty.