Weymouth Astronomy

Features on the Moon's surface

The majority of features listed below are visible with a small telescope or binoculars. The moon is an ideal object for beginners to observe.

Craters

Craters on the moonA great many craters litter the moons surface. Some of these craters can be up to hundreds of kilometres across. These craters are caused mainly by the impact of meteorites. Newly created craters have bright rays extending across the surface. These are caused when material is sprayed out from impacts onto the surface.

Maria

Mare on moon surfaceThe surface appearance of the moon is largely craters and dark lunar Maria. The mares ('seas') were thought to be water from their dark and flat appearance. It was realized that these areas were lava flooding portions of the moon, leaving these dark areas. Massive impacts early in the life of the Moon created large basins in the surface that filled with lava flowing from the Moon's interior.

Highlands

Highlands on moon surfaceThe brighter regions on the moon are the mountainous highlands, where the terrain is rough and strewn with rocky rubble. The lunar mountain ranges, with heights up to 25,000 ft (7800 m), are comparable to the highest mountains on earth but in general are not very steep. It is generally agreed that the highlands are the oldest parts of the moons surface.

Rilles

Rilles on moon surfaceRilles are trenches within the Moon's surface and are thought to be caused by collapsing lava tubes. They are scattered all over the surface of the Moon and can be recognized quite easily. They resemble wide canyons and when near the terminator, give the impression of bottomless abysses. To observe the vast majority of Rilles a telescope of reasonable size is required although the largest ones can be observed with smaller telescopes.