January 18, 2015
Originally published January 18, 2004
Image Credit: Christian LeGrand
Recently I recommended lunar charts by Antonin Rukl as the absolute best available. They are...to post on a wall, unfold at the eyepiece, or savor as a lovely book, but I must retract the word "absolute." Maps of the Moon have gone digital, and whereas a computer is less convenient than a paper map for many uses, the power of a digital lunar map to display the Moon is truly amazing. The image above demonstrates some ways digital maps can morph the Moon that paper ones can't, no matter how much you twist or bend them. This view from the Virtual Moon Atlas by Christian LeGrand and Patrick Chevalley is part of a Clementine global mosaic of the Moon looking eastward across Sinus Iridum, with part of Mare Imbrium on the right. The inset shows a low oblique perspective (a photo image draped over Clementine digital topography) of Iridum, as could be seen out the window of your personal lunar orbiter. The panel to the right offers all sorts of data on the features seen in the map image. VMA can display the portion of the Moon illuminated (including libration effects) on any given night, with optional nomenclature and lat/long grids. It can also overlay layers showing other types of data such as geology, and perhaps in the future, compositional and geophysical - or selenophysical - data. VMA is an extraordinary tool for the amateur and the professional student of the Moon. And using a standard estimation of value (number of features divided by cost), the fact that VMA is free, makes its value infinite!
Yesterday's LPOD: Wood's Spot
Tomorrow's LPOD: King of the Craters
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