October 5, 2021

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A Classic Compared

Originally published December 6, 2011 LPOD-Dec6-11.jpg
left painting by John Russell (circa 1795) from BAA; right image by Volker, Germany (50°83´- 13°08´)

The December issue of the British Astronomical Association Lunar Section Circular uses this wonderful painting from John Russell to promote a lead article about lunar color. This is perhaps the most accurate drawing of the lunar surface ever made. Quite a claim, but Russell was a professional artist and this comparison with a modern high quality image (from the LPOD Photo Gallery) shows how good he was. His tonal depiction of light and dark areas was excellent; no other lunar sketches captured the many subtle tones shown here. He even included small albedo details such as the dark halo craters on the floor of Alphonsus and the butterfly rays of Messier. As is true with many lunar artists Russell exaggerated the size of some features - his Copernicus and Posidonius appear too large and the Alpine Valley is shown wider than it is. Understanding of the Moon might not have progressed faster if more artists of Russell's caliber had drawn it, but there would have been less confusion over possible changes - often due to poor drawings - and we would have many more masterpieces.

Chuck Wood

Technical Details
Volker's image: 23-04-2010. Intes-MN71 (D:178mm F:1080mm); DMK31 and IR-Pass 685nm

Yesterday's LPOD: Peek a Boo

Tomorrow's LPOD: Non-Concentric Basin Scarp


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