THE SEA OF TRANQUILLITY:
Last night was again a good night for viewing the Moon here in Winnipeg, though once more Molly was reduced to binoculars because she was too cowardly to set up in wind chills of 33 below. Because of that I could only observe the largest of features in this tour of the major mare of the Moon. This night's feature is the Mare Tranquillitatus, the Sea of Tranquillity (the item numbered #9) on the moon map to the left, located just a little to the left of the Mare Criseum discussed before. This is called "to the west" in lunar terminology, the obverse of Terran convention.
Even in a pair of binoculars the difference in colour between the Sea of Tranquillity and the Sea of Serenity is obvious. Tranquillity is something of a "steely grey" while Serenity shows up as a brownish "sea". It is believed that Tranquility is younger than Serenity. All of the present Mare are believed to have formed in earlier times when the Moon was still geologically active. The presumed mechanism is lava flows following impacts.
The main features of the area of Tranquillity visible in binoculars are the 'Sinus Amoris' the 'Bay of Love', extending to the upper right (northeast) towards Criseum and the 'Sinus Asperitatus', the 'Bay of Roughness' extending to the southeast (lower right) to the Mare Nectaris(#12 in the figure to the left).
Molly hopes to do at least a few more of these surveys in the time left in this lunar cycle. The next upcoming full Moon, the Full Snow Moon (See Molly's Blog, Dec 31, 2006 for a description of the traditional names of the full Moons of the year), will occur on Feb 2nd. Last night was great for viewing, with the Moon approximately 20 degrees towards the zenith above Orion. Tonight has been mostly overcast. I'll return to the Moon in future posts and hopefully get beyond this sort of rough description as time goes by, particularly if it is warm enough to crack out the telescope. More detail to give then. I won't finish the survey this cycle, especially as the best nights for viewing are also the coldest, but much more detail will follow.