February 14, 2015

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Happy Valentine Dome Day!

Originally published February 14, 2004


Image Credit: KC Pau

Happy Valentine Dome Day

Here is a lunar Valentine Day's card courtesy of KC Pau. Valentine's Day, named for a martyred Roman saint (who sent his jailer's daughter a note signed, "From your Valentine") is associated with hearts. Naturally, the heart-like shape of this low relief dome in northwestern Mare Serenitatis inspired famed lunar artist Alika Herring to name it the Valentine Dome. With a diameter of 30 km, the Valentine Dome is one of the widest on the Moon, but its low (and so far unmeasured) height makes it a challenge to observe. KC's extraordinary image is the best in existence, better than any image from the Consolidated Lunar Atlas and better than the Lunar Orbiter IV image. In addition to showing tiny craterlets, the image captures a very delicate rille that slices across the dome like an arrow through a valentine. The rille is curved, about 60 km long, and runs off the dome both to the north and south. At the southern end it stops at a low scarp. Five to six small peaks protrude through the dome; I doubt if they are volcanic features, they appear to be scraggly outliers of the Caucasus Mts, embayed by the later forming Mare Serenitatis. Interestingly, a Clementine image reproduced in the Digilander link below shows that the dome is darker than the surrounding mare with distinct albedo boundaries. Some Valentine Day presents are sent by mysterious admirers; the Valentine Dome is mysterious all by itself!

Technical Details:
Image obtained 16 September 2003 at 21:11 UT using a 250 mm f/6 Newtonian and a webcam. North is to the upper right.

Related Links:
How Valentine's Day Works
Lunar Orbiter IV View
A Study About the Valentine Dome

Yesterday's LPOD: Copernicus in Color

Tomorrow's LPOD: Volcanic Rump

Author & Editor:
Charles A. Wood



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