When the moon makes its monthly trip around the Earth, use your telescope in October to find the features of Tycho Crater.
The most exciting times to observe the moon are close to the first and third quarter when the sun casts glancing spectacular rays across the lunar surface, bringing its surface features into high relief.
If you want to learn more about how to view the Moon from a telescope or a pair of binocular, then head over to this interesting article: How To See The Moon: Best Telescope Viewing Tips.
What is the Moon’s Most Distinct Feature?
The most distinctive feature of the Moon’s surface is the hundreds of craters that cover it. It is the result of bombardment by asteroids in the Moon’s early history.
It will surprise most people to learn that most of the Moon’s craters were created about three billion years ago, even before life emerged on Earth.
Our Moon is fantastic to watch with a telescope. No other celestial object can offer as much complexity, beauty, and sheer wonder as does our closest satellite in space, the Moon.
You could easily spend many years studying its scarred and battered landscape with just an ordinary telescope.
Observing time dedicated to exploring the Moons surface in detail is time properly spent. Just ask any experienced stargazer.
Views of the Moon’s Surface (Video).
Below you find a video about the new and unprecedented views of the Moon’s surface. And along with a unique insight into how our Moon and other rocky satellites in our own solar system came to look the way they do. So, see some of the sights and learn more about the Moon in the video below. Credit: NASA.
What Are Those Dark Areas On The Moon?
But you don’t always need high powered telescopes to see great features on the lunar surface, and you can see lots with just your unaided eye or with a pair of ordinary binoculars you have lying around the house.
For example, what are those large, dark areas on the Moon? They are known as “maria” or “mare,” singular. Or even “seas,” and they are large impact basins that were created around 3 to 3.5 billion years ago.
It happened when giant asteroids smashed into the lunar surface and were later filled in with basaltic lava that flowed up from the Moon’s interior.
There are over 20 impact basins, but there are around six or maybe seven that you can easily see and learn the names of with just your unaided eye.
Moon Crater Tycho
The Moon’s surface is bombarded with signs of millions of other, smaller impact craters. You need a telescope or powerful binoculars to see most of them, but there is a handful that stands out to your unaided eye. And we are going to look in detail at one of the most prominent craters of all: Moon Crater Tycho.
Who Was Tycho Brahe?
Tycho Crater is named in tribute of the 16th-century famous Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe.
The crater Tycho can be found on the moon’s southern hemisphere, just south of Mare Nubium.
Tycho crater is a very bright feature with many, light-colored lines, or “rays,” radiating out throughout like spokes from the hub of a bicycle wheel.
When is the Best Time to Look at Tycho Crater?
If you are looking through a telescope, then keep in mind that while looking through a reflector and through a refractor or a Cassegrain telescope without a diagonal, the image will be inverted.
And when watching in the southern hemisphere, the lunar surface will appear upside down from what you are used to seeing from here in the northern hemisphere.
Therefore, the Tycho crater would appear in the moon’s northern hemisphere when viewed from under the equator.
Remember, the best time to observe Tycho crater is from two days before a full moon to two days after.
How Many Tons of Meteor Struck Earth Every Day?
Fun fact, on average, the Earth is bombarded with about 36 tons of meteor rock every day.
Luckily for us, most of this material is no bigger than a grain of sand and burns up harmlessly as it crashes into our atmosphere. And is occasionally observed as a “shooting star.”
We don’t know the collision rate of meteors on the moon, but you can trust that it’s likely similar to our own.
But with our moon, there is no atmosphere to slow down those “meteoroids,” and they do not burn up before slamming into the lunar surface, they smack right into it.
Those space rocks hitting the moon are traveling amazingly fast, lets say, around 45,000 mph to 160,000 mph.
How big a crater that forms from such an impact depends on the velocity of the meteoroid and its mass. Given the speeds that we are talking about here, a 10-lb space rock could dig out a crater some thirty ft. across and throw lunar material out over the lunar surface in all directions and over great distances.
Why is Tycho Crater a “Complex Crater”?
Tycho Crater is a perfect example of what is known as a “complex crater.” It is a crater that has terraced walls, flat floors, a center mountain peak emanating from the crater floor. And ejecta matter fanning out throughout the crater site.
Tycho crater is over fifty miles in diameter, three miles deep. And with a center peak that stands nearly 1.24 miles over the crater floor. In other words, a deep hole in the ground.
By contrast, Barringer Crater, situated outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, is around one-mile in diameter and 570 feet deep.
The crater was formed around 50,000 years ago when an iron-nickel meteorite about 150 feet across hit the ground, delivering the energy equivalent of 2.5 megatons of TNT.
Moon Crater Tycho’s Ejecta Rays
The structure of the impactor that created Tycho Crater is not well known. Still, judging by the destruction it created, the object was presumably anywhere from four to six miles in diameter. Surely something we would not want to crash into the Earth now.
And based on radiometric dating from material gathered by the Apollo 17 moon mission, it is suggested that Tycho crater was formed about 109 million years ago. That is young by lunar crater standards.
And that the blast required to produce the Tycho crater must have generated the equivalent of thirty trillion tons of TNT.
That would be like two million Hiroshima bombs going off at the same time. The many dinosaurs roaming on the Earth at the time may have seen that bright explosion on the Moon 109 million years ago.
And some of them must have seen the fragments that likely pelted the Earth for days and nights afterward.
At the moment, the impactor crashed into the Moon, the kinetic energy derived from both its mass and speed got flash converted into heat energy, and that would have liquefied the lunar matter at the impact site.
Molten lunar rock scattered out towards the northwest, east, and southwest to create Tycho’s beautiful ejecta rays.
The evidence that the rays are not splayed out in all direction tells us that the impactor arrived in at an oblique angle from the west. The most far-reaching of these rays are over 930 miles long.
How High is Tycho Crater’s Central Peak?
In the center of the crater floor is Tycho’s 1.24-mile high central peak. This Moon mountain literally formed in minutes of the impact. Yes, minutes.
You’ve seen how this occurred many times before. Have you ever watch a slow-motion video of a drop of water or a pebble hitting the surface of a pond?
When that water droplet hits the surface, it formes a temporary “crater” in the water. Liquid gets displaced all around, creating the impact crater.
Then what happens? It quickly fills back in, and we see a rebound result where a middle column of fluid then shoots back up into the air.
Now implement this on a much bigger scale and, rather than water, use molten Moonrock. That tower of melted Moonrock will quickly cool to form the center peak that we see in many large Moon craters. Few of which can be seen with a tiny backyard telescope, including the famous Tycho crater.
That’s it, I hope you enjoyed this article. Please check out this new article: Moon Crater Tycho. It is everything you need to know about the Tycho crater. You will be surprised.
The new book ‘How We Got to the Moon’ will reveal a stunning look at Apollo 11 Mission to the Moon.
Do you want some more fascinating facts about our only satellite, then head over to this thought-provoking article: Moon Facts – Interesting & Strange Facts About The Moon.