Science Behind the Photo #33

This detailed photograph of our Moon was taken at the University of London Observatory (ULO), on the amazingly beautiful and intricate Fry telescope. Made by famous telescope manufacturer Thomas Cook in 1862, it was moved to ULO in 1930. It is used often to instruct astronomy students and is mainly used to observe planets, solar system objects and solar phenomena.

Although the photo above looks like a complete image, if you look really closely you might be able to see that it is a composite of many smaller images, joined together using computer software. Due to the high level of zoom it wasn’t possible to take just one image as the telescopic field-of-view wasn’t large enough, so around 20 photos were taken of all areas of the moon and then painstakingly stitched together and layered until the photo above was achieved.

Viewing the Moon in a phase such as that above is useful for observing the height, depth and characteristics of craters – the craters on the border of shadow above are easily viewable and measurable due to the contrast of bright and dark. Viewing a full Moon doesn’t allow this kind of analysis, but is definitely one of the most exciting and awe-inspiring thing to observe in space near our little planet.

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