This map depicts the Moon as it will appear from the northern hemisphere on September 26, 2020, the date of International Observe the Moon Night. Many of the best views will occur along the terminator (the line between the day and night side of the Moon).
Lunar Maria (Seas)
Lunar Maria (Seas)
The Moon's Alps Mountains form the northeastern rim of the Imbrium impact basin, which now holds the vast lava plains of Mare Imbrium. The mountains are cut through by the 190 km long and 10 km wide Alpine Valley. The Alpine Valley is an example of a graben, formed when land sinks between two parallel faults.
Enjoy some of the Moon’s most spectacular mountain scenery among the towering peaks of the Apennine Mountains. This range, part of the east rim of the Imbrium impact basin, is 250 km long and reaches over 5 km high. The Apollo 15 landing site is located along the range’s western edge.
Copernicus is a magnificent 93 km diameter crater with terraced walls, a flat floor, and a group of central peaks towering 1200 m above the floor. The crater is over 3700 m deep. To the west of Copernicus, just emerging into the lunar dawn and just north of the small crater Hortensius, you may be able to catch glimpses of a cluster of small, round, blister-like landforms. These are the Hortensius Domes, classic examples of low lunar shield volcanoes.
Also known as Rupes Recta, this spectacular example of a lunar fault cuts a long, straight line across the floor of Mare Nubium. Along its 120-km length, the ground steps up from west to east along a scarp that in places is more than 400 meters high. This fascinating feature stands out even in small telescopes.
Apollo Landing Sites
Between July 1969 and December 1972 a total of 12 astronauts landed on the surface of the Moon as part of the Apollo missions. Apollo missions 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 each landed in different locations on the lunar surface. These locations, each fascinating for their own particular reasons, sampled a wide range of lunar geology and terrain, from smooth Mare plains to rugged ancient highlands. Here are some featured sites.
The final Apollo mission to land on the Moon visited the spectacular Taurus-Littrow Valley, deeper than Earth’s Grand Canyon. In December 1972, astronauts Cernan and Schmitt (the first professional geologist on the Moon) explored an active fault scarp, a gigantic landslide deposit, and brought back samples including beads of volcanic glass erupted in an ancient lunar fire fountain.
The first human landing site was on the smooth flat plains of the Sea of Tranquility. Despite how flat the area looks from Earth and from lunar orbit, astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin had to maneuver their lander in the last minutes of their descent in order to avoid a field of giant boulders.
This was the first and only mission to land in the rugged lunar highlands. In April 1972, astronauts Young and Duke collected rock samples more than 4 billion years old. These showed that the ancient lunar crust formed from rock that crystallized and floated to the top of a global lunar magma ocean.