Taken on 9 October 2009
This image consists of 120 separate images taken with an Imaging Source DMK21AU04.AS camera. Each image consisted of around 2000 frames that were processed in RegiStax5 and the resulting images were stitched together using Microsoft ICE.
You can see more of Dave Smith's photographs on his website by going to our Links page.
There's no two ways about it – the Moon is an amazing sight, whether seen first-hand, so to speak, through the eyepiece of a telescope, or second-hand in photographs such as this one. To get the best out of this picture though, you'd do well to pay a visit to Dave Smith's own website via our Links page. There you'll be able to view a high resolution image, which reveals some incredible detail – without having to stand outside in the cold!
One of the things that this picture illustrates very well is the dichotomy in the nature of the Moon's surface. On one hand there are regions that have clearly been seriously pulverized by meteors, such as the southern uplands in the bottom right of this photograph, where impact craters are so numerous they often overlap. The maria on the other hand are characterized by a dearth of such craters.
The maria were probably formed between about 3,900 million years ago and 2,000 million years ago, making them somewhat younger than the uplands. Their formation process is uncertain, but may well have been the result of a colossal impact that formed the Imbrium Basin, which dominates the upper central area in this photograph. Such an impact would be expected to cause widespread fracturing, extending way beyond the impact area. It's thought probable that lava would then have flowed freely through the fractures flooding across much of the Moon's Northern hemisphere, giving rise to the extensive "seas", including the well defined and very circular Mare Serenitatis, seen here straddling the terminator at upper right.
Close inspection of Dave's high resolution image on his website will show a number of examples of "ghost" craters. These are the outlines of impact craters that were created prior to whatever catastrophe it was that created the maria and that were nearly, but not quite entirely, buried by the lava flood.