Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Moon and its rocks

The Moon is near enough to see well with binoculars.

Its main features stand out clearly.

The same side of the Moon faces Earth all the time.



Most maps of the Moon use Latin names for the features, but it is interesting to see the names in English.

The flatter dark areas were called seas (maria) and oceans when nothing was really known, but they are actually large, mainly flat, areas of basalt lava.

  Notice the gas bubbles in the basalt lava

The highland areas are lighter in colour, and made of anorthosite rock.



The surface is covered by fine dust, mixed with rock fragments and glass beads.

This lunar 'soil' is usually referred to as regolith.



The tiny glass beads were formed when meteors hit the moon and caused rock so melt.

The molten material flew up and cooled quickly in the cold airless lunar environment to make drops of glass.

The far side of the Moon was unknown until space-probes photographed it in the late 1950s.

This picture was taken by a Chinese space probe in 2014.

It shows a large part of the far side of the Moon, as well as the Earth.



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