Selenography 101 Certification

The Selenography 101 Certification will help you build foundational knowledge about The Moon’s geography and develop a deeper connection to our planetary companion. Plus it’s fun!

Goals

  • Gain a basic understanding about Luna and the reasons for its appearance.
  • Become familiar with easily identifiable Lunar landmarks.

Requirements

  • Anyone can participate in the Lunar Observing program.
  • However, participants must have an active Moon Society Membership to earn a certificate.
  • You can start at any time.
  • No time limits. Progress at your own pace.
  • It will take at least a month to complete this program because of the Lunar Phases section.

Rewards

  • Emailed certificate you can print. (You can have a hand in helping us design it!)
  • Your name on the “LOP Observers” page on The Moon Society website.
  • You name mentioned at the next LOP Slack meeting following the date your certificate was sent. The channel for the meeting is #lunar-observing.

Required equipment

  • Access to the Internet – You’ll need to access images of Luna to complete some observations. You’ll also need the Internet to submit your Observation Logs and to receive your certificate.
  • Mark I Eyeball – This is simply slang for your eyes. Glasses or contacts are recommended if you require them.
  • Binoculars – Binoculars are not required. You can complete the program through a combination of unaided visual observations and online photographs. However, looking at The Moon through binoculars is a lot of fun. You’ll see more detail and get a much better feel for the place. And it will help you feel more connected. And that’s what we’re looking for, right? Check out our Binoculars for Lunar observing page for more information.
  • Telescope – Telescopes are also not required. You may even want to hold off on buying one until you are sure this is a hobby you want to pursue. Astronomy can be an expensive hobby. Fortunately, even a moderately priced telescope can show you things you’ve never seen before. Check out our Telescopes for Lunar observing page for more information.

Photographic and video equipment will be covered in more advanced certifications.

Modifiers

Certifications will have modifiers attached to them depending on how the observations were made. This is a way to show the extra work you’ve put into your observations.

The modifiers for this certification are:

  • No modifier – Eyeballs only. This includes using Lunar photographs.
  • [B] – 90% of the observations were made with a binocular.
  • [T] – 90% of the observations made with a telescope.

The catch with modifiers is that modifiers have to be earned on different days. That means you’ll have to observe each feature up to three times. One time with your unaided eyes (mandatory for the unmodified certification), one time with binoculars, and one time with a telescope. And each time needs to be on a different day. Sure, a Selenography 101 [BT] Certification is going to take some time. But what’s the rush? This way you’ll get a better feel for The Moon by viewing it under different conditions and at various times.

To be clear, you have to complete the unmodified certification in addition to the modified. So, to earn a Selenography 101[B] Certification, you have to observe all the features unaided and 90% with binoculars. A Selenography 101[T] Certification requires observing all the features unaided and 90% with a telescope. A Selenography 101[BT] Certification means that you observed each feature 3 times – unaided, with binoculars, and with a telescope.

Modifiers don’t have to all be done at once. You can submit your logs for a “no modifier” certificate when you complete the requirements. Once you buy a binocular and/or telescope, you can complete the observations again using your new tool. Submit those logs and your updated certificate will be emailed to you.

Sketching

Most of the observations you’ll be making will also require sketches of what you’ve seen. Don’t worry about how good they look; this isn’t an art class. There are two reasons for requiring sketches. First, it builds observing and record keeping skills. Second, it documents that you actually spent some time looking at The Moon. Sure, you can cheat and we’ll never know. But why would you want to? Third, taking the time to draw what you’ve seen will help imprint it in your mind. Fourth, it’s kind of fun.

Sections

Section 1 – Lunar orbital observations

  • Information
  • Orbital observations
    • These will help demonstrate that Luna is constantly moving.
    • Apogee (within 48 hours) (eyes only)
      • Hold various coins at arm’s length. Find the one that best approximates the size of The Moon.
    • Perigee (within 48 hours) (eyes only)
      • Hold various coins at arm’s length. Find the one that best approximates the size of The Moon.
    • Plot Luna’s position against the stars for three consecutive days (eyes only)
      • Draw a sketch of The Moon and the brightest stars nearby for each day.
  • Lunar phases
    • Many people hold preconceptions about the reasons behind the phases of the Moon. Many think the phases are caused by the shadow of the Earth on the Moon or by shadows passing in front of the Moon.
    • Observe and record each Lunar phase (eyes only)
      • New Moon (0% illumination)
      • Old Moon in New Moon’s Arms (Within 72 hours of New)
        • Thin bright crescent (the “new moon”) partially wrapped around the dark “old moon”.
      • Waxing crescent (0.1% – 49.9% illumination)
      • First Quarter (50% illumination)
      • Waxing gibbous (50.1% – 99.9% illumination)
      • Full Moon (100% illumination)
        • Observe a Full Moon and sketch a large-scale (prominent features)
      • Waning gibbous (50.1% – 99.9% illumination)
      • Last Quarter (50% illumination)
      • Waning crescent (0.1% – 49.9% illumination)
      • New Moon in Old Moon’s Arms (Within 72 hours of New)
        • Thin bright crescent (the “old moon”) partially wrapped around the dark “new moon”.

Section 2 – Folklore

People have seen several different patterns on the surface of The Moon over the centuries. Can you see them?

  • Information
  • Observe and record each pattern (eyes and/or images only)
    • Man in the Moon
    • Woman in the Moon
    • Rabbit in the Moon
    • Cow Jumping Over the Moon

Section 3 – Major Near Side features

  • The two main regions of The Moon are the mare and terre. Both regions have been altered by cratering.
  • Mare – Observe and record each pattern (eyes – mandatory) (binoculars and telescope – optional)
    • Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquility)
      • Most famous mare because of Apollo 11
    • Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms)
      • Site of Apollo 12
    • Mare Imbrium (Sea of Showers/Rain)
      • Site of Apollo 15
    • Mare Serenitatis (Sea of Serenity)
    • Mare Crisium (Sea of Crises)
    • Mare Fecunditatis (Sea of Fecundity/Fertility)
    • Mare Nectaris (Sea of Nectar)
    • Mare Frigoris (Sea of Cold)
    • Mare Vaporum (Sea of Vapors)
    • Mare Nubium (Sea of Clouds)
    • Mare Humorum (Sea of Moisture)
    • Mare Cognitum (Sea that has become known)
    • Mare Insularum (Sea of Islands)
  • Terre – Observe and record each pattern (eyes – mandatory) (binoculars and telescope – optional)
    • Much of the terre is unnamed.
    • Montes Apenniuns (Apennine Mountains)
      • Near the Apollo 15 site
    • Montes Taurus (Taurus Mountains)
      • Apollo 17 site
    • Montes Caucasus (Caucasus Mountains)
    • Montes Alpes (Alps Mountains
  • Craters – Observe and record each pattern (eyes – mandatory) (binoculars and telescope – optional)
    • Copernicus
    • Tycho
    • Kepler
    • Aristarchus
    • Plato
    • Grimaldi
    • Byrgius
    • Langernus
    • Stevinus
    • Erastostnes
    • Aristoteles
    • Archimedes

Section 4 – Major Far Side features (under construction)

Obviously, the only way to observe these features is to use photographs. That’s fine. It’s important to recognize that Luna is a sphere and that there is half of the surface that we can’t see from Earth.

Also, you obviously can’t use binoculars or telescopes for this section.

  • Mare – Observe and record each pattern (eyes – mandatory)
    • TBD
  • Terre – Observe and record each pattern (eyes – mandatory)
    • TBD
  • Craters – Observe and record each pattern (eyes – mandatory)
    • TBD

Section 5 – Major Polar features (under construction)

Many of the current “return to The Moon” plans have robots and people going to the Lunar poles. It’s important that we have a basic understanding of the geography there.

Direct observation of the Lunar poles is difficult. Some of the features just aren’t observable from Earth. So, this section will also use photographs.

  • Mare – Observe and record each pattern (eyes – mandatory)
    • TBD
  • Terre – Observe and record each pattern (eyes – mandatory)
    • TBD
  • Craters – Observe and record each pattern (eyes – mandatory)
    • TBD

Observation Logs

We’re still working on these. Here’s the current list. Don’t worry, we’ll have a nice document you can print ready soon.

  • Object Name
  • Date observed
  • Observer’s location
    • City, State, Country
    • Lat/Long (optional)
    • Altitude (optional)
  • Time observed (Local)
  • Time zone (UTC)
  • Lunar phase during observation
  • Equipment used
    • Power/Magnification
    • Filters used
  • Viewing conditions
    • Seeing
    • Transparency
  • Description of feature
  • Sketch of feature
    • Label what you are observing
    • Label any other feature you observed (optional)
    • Note anything else you see (optional)
      • Your notes don’t have to be on the sketch.
  • Notes