Colors on the Moon II

Tri-Color CCD results

Uploaded 2/23/03

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The Moon is usually represented by images in shades of grays and pure black. We now know however that the moon is geologically differentiated, and the various rock types have certain pale hues which can be easily recorded by film and CCD. What prompted me to do this project was the article in the March 1996 issue of Sky and Telescope on Lunar coloration. You can see a scan of the single page article HERE. The image on the left is a standard three color RGB image of the moon taken with my ST8i CCD, properly darkframe subtracted and flat fielded. The eye will see a view similar to this. On the right, the color saturation has been increased about 75 %, revealing the blues, yellows, and ruddy coloration of the various geologic rock types. For example, the Sea of Tranquility is quite bluish, due to basalt with high levels of titanium. Mare Serenitatis is brownish red showing a later lava flow over the blue, and Mare Imbrium is quite a mix of blue and reddish lavas. Some of the colored regions on the moon have earned names as well, as listed below.

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Woods Spot, Aristarchus, and Copernicus.

The very bright crater to the left is Aristarchus, and just to its left is one of the most intensely colored areas on the moon, known as "Woods Spot". This contains the famous Schroters Valley and is an extended lava flow. Copernicus is bluish, and represents much younger material excavated from the depths.

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Mare Imbrium, Sinus Iridium Region

One of the best known areas on the Moon for color contrasts in lava flows. The bluish gray floor of Imbrium has been overlain by a billion year old reddish flow that took place later in time. Sinus Iridium is fully filled in with the reddish material, and part of Plato is as well.

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Mare Serenitatis and Tranquillitatis

Another superb area for comparative coloration. The steely blue of Tranquility is quite a contrast against the ruddy lava flows in Serenity.

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Proclus and Mare Crisium Area

Note the blue rays extending from the brilliant fresh crater Proclus in the lower center of the frame. Just below it, Palus Somni is a bit reddish, as is a strip of lava to Proclus's upper right in Crisium.

Instrument:  12.5" f/5 Newtonian
Date:  2/15/03
Platform:  Astrophysics 1200
Exposure:  .1
Filters:  RGB
Location:  Payson, Arizona
Elevation:  5150 ft.
Sky:  Seeing 5/10, Transparency 8/10
Outside Temperature:  0 C
Processing Tools:  Photoshop, Maxim
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