Answers to frequently asked questions about the viewing guide. If you have a question that is not answered here, please contact us through our Feedback form
Can I see the same view as the Detail Images from Earth?
No. These are taken by our Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has powerful cameras on board and is extremely close to the Moon. Getting those close-up views is one reason why we send satellites to other worlds!
Why are no sites highlighted on the Moon map?
During the new moon phase and thinnest crescent phases, you will not see any sites highlighted because all (or almost all) of the Moon will be in shadow.
How do I look up a specific date?
Click on the calendar button to the left of today’s date to choose a different day of the current year.
Why can’t I spin the Moon around?
Because of tidal locking, only the near side of the Moon is ever visible from Earth. This viewing guide shows a view of the Moon from Earth on a specific day. Visit this page for an interactive feature that can show you the far side of the Moon.
What type of telescope or binoculars should I use? Do I need a device?
Good news: the Moon’s proximity and brightness make it a great viewing object, even with your unaided eyes! If you choose to use an observing device, myriad factors might go into your decision, including how you will be using the device, what you will be viewing, and your budget if you are purchasing new equipment. We recommend consulting the many excellent guides on astronomy websites about what to look for in binoculars or telescopes.
Why do you ask for my hemisphere?
The Moon looks different depending on your location on the globe. Sites appear “flipped” between the northern and southern hemispheres.
How do you determine which sites are best for a particular viewing mode?
Our “recommended” sites are based on visibility, how easy they are to find, and how interesting they may be for viewers. You can also see many other sites that should be visible on your date by clicking on “all.”
Why do so many sites on the Moon have two different names? Where do lunar place names come from?
Many Moon features have Latin names. We sometimes use translations to other languages, too. For instance, Mare Tranquillitatis is also called the Sea of Tranquility. Here are a few examples of Latin words that are often used in lunar place names:
- Mare = Sea
- Terra = Land
- Rima = Rille (a valley or trench)
- Oceanus = Ocean
- Rupe = Cliff