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12/16/2021 – Ephemeris – The brightest spot on the Moon

December 16, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, December 16th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 5:03, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:14. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 6:53 tomorrow morning.

The Moon tonight is bright. The sunrise line or terminator on the moon is crossing the large gray plain called Oceanus Procellarum, the largest of the moon’s seas. These seas were figments of the first telescopic observers imagination. They are really huge impact basins into which interior lava flowed. On the upper left edge of the moon near the terminator is a bright spot visible in binoculars. In a telescope, it is a crater called Aristarchus. It is a fairly new crater, probably less than a billion years old. As a rule the brighter the crater the newer it is. Aristarchus is the brightest spot on the moon. Over the years, visual astronomers have seen hazes and bright spots from time to time in and near Aristarchus. Their cause is still a mystery.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Brightest spots on the nearly full Moon

The brightest spots on the Moon as they might appear tonight, December 16, 2021. This is not a photograph. But created using Stellarium, presumably from lunar satellite photographs that simulate the phase and shadows.

Oblique view of the crater Aristarchus from a lunar orbiting satellite

Oblique view of the crater Aristarchus from a lunar orbiting satellite. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.