The Elusive Lunar S

By Gary George

As you can see I decided to go out and shoot the Moon so after about the third shot I pull up my last shot to check it for focus and detail when the “Lunar S” jumped right at me, So I took a cellphone shot of it and sent it down to Rick and the conversation started.

Just like the Lunar” X and V”, we have the “S” as well, but all three of these are just light and crater walls. How this happens is the light from the Sun being cast across the surface of the Moon and lighting up normally the highest elevation on the crater, a Massif, or whatever, The “X” and the “V” are simply a grouping of crater walls that make up them , but the “S” is a mountain Massif and a crater. So what I have done so that you can see exactly what we are talking about I have gathered a map from one of my many Lunar books and have showed the page and how the “S” is formed.

The picture posted above is last night’s moon as I took it from our parking lot where I live here in Abingdon, here are some stats on the Moon that I usually put in my posts when I am posting pictures so folks know what they are looking at, so here goes some stats from last nights moon, it was a 6 day 12 hour moon, it’s 34.6 % visible at a distance of 246,806 miles away from Earth, The moon is getting closer to Earth as we speak because the Full Moon on the 14th of June is the next to last “SUPERMOON” of this year. So if you miss the full moon in June the last one is July, more on that in a few minutes so back to the lunar “S”.

The map above is showing you the area where the ”S” is actually located, but not knowing where to look you are kind of lost, so the next map (black & white) shows you exactly where the Lunar “S” is. Now you can compare the two maps and see just how it is formed. Remember when you go back to the picture of last night’s moon it’s all sunlight and some shadows that form this. The lunar X and V are the same way it’s all done by Sunlight and shadows that make up these letters that we see in pictures. It’s fun to do, so if you get interested in taking pictures of the Moon you should be able to find these objects, but what I forgot to tell you is this, the Lunar S was only visible last night, so if you go out tonight or even next week and try to find it you won’t be able to because the Sunlight has taken over the surface of the moon and there are no shadows, only over around the “terminator” ( the line that defines lightness from darkness on the Moon’s surface, and last night was the 6 day 12 hour moon, so next lunation on the 6th day you should be able to look through some binoculars or a small telescope and see the “S”.

Here is some information pertaining to the S, first the light comes across the surface and hits Mons Penck, this mountain massif was named for a German geographer who lived from 1858 to 1945 the mountain massif is 2.48 miles high and has a diameter of 18 miles across the top. The crater that also forms the “S” is known as Kant , crater Kant was named for a German Philosopher ( Immanuel Kant 1742-1804) the crater does have a central peak the crater measures out at 19.8 miles across and it 1.9 miles in height.

Tonight June 6th the Lunar X and V will be visible for approx. 4 hours, then you need to wait to see them again, usually it plays out as every two months we get to see it here. So the Supermoon on June 14th , it rises at 9:15PM at 126 degrees in the SE. If you have a very good view of the Horizon the Moon in it’s orbit will be at perigee ( closest) at a distance 226,329 miles away, it will look bigger than normal and if we have pollution or a volcano has erupted and the ash is in the atmosphere the Moon will be a deep Orangish looking color, but as the Moon rises up in the night sky it will turn from Orange to gray and go from the BIGGEST Moon you have ever seen to a NORMAL MOON. But it is really worth the time to find a really good place to watch it rise over the horizon and take pictures using a camera and tripod. Below is my picture of the SUPERMOON RISING back in March of 2020 this picture was taken from the Dog Park here in Abingdon looking East out over the Chesapeake Bay. the last SUPERMOON of this year will be in July.

Hope you enjoyed reading this and feel free to drop any comments.

Comments 1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *