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How to See The Moon With A Telescope?

A telescope, no matter how small it is, can reveal a whole new world to you. The moon is always observable whether you are in a town or a village with even the smallest telescope and it always looks spectacular. You will also be able to see other planets of the solar system, the arm of the Milky Way, distant star clusters, nebulae, etc through your telescope. This article will guide you to get the best ways to view the moon with the details.

What is Moon?

The Moon, Earth’s only natural satellite, is a planetary-mass object or satellite planet, the largest and most massive satellite in relation to its parent planet within the Solar System. With a diameter of 3,474 km (2,159 mi), roughly one-quarter of Earth’s, and a mass that amounts to 1.2% of Earth’s, the Moon’s surface gravity is about one sixth of Earth’s, the second highest among all Solar System moons, after Jupiter’s moon Io. The body of the Moon is differentiated and terrestrial, with no significant hydrosphere, atmosphere, or magnetic field. It formed 4.51 billion years ago, out of the debris from a giant impact between Earth and a hypothesized Mars-sized body called Theia. The Moon is Earth’s only natural satellite, orbiting the Earth at a distance of about 239,000 miles (385,000 kilometers). The Earth and Moon are tidally locked, meaning their rotations are so in sync that we only see one side of the Moon. The Moon has a very thin and tenuous atmosphere called an exosphere, which is not breathable.

How far is Moon from planet Earth?

The average distance between the moon and Earth is approximately 384,400 km (238,900 mi). The Moon is Earth’s only natural satellite with an average distance of 384,400 km (238,900 mi). The eccentricity of the Earth-Moon system is 0.0549, and it affects the choice of telescope for observing them due to the varying distances and velocities between the two bodies. The Moon’s diameter is approximately one-fourth the size of Earth’s diameter. The orbital period of the Earth and Moon system is approximately 27.3 days. The inclination of the Moon’s orbit around the Sun is about 5.14 degrees. The axial tilt of the Moon is about 1.5 degrees.

Can you see Moon with a telescope?

Yes, you can see the Moon, a space object, with a telescope. The Moon is the easiest and most impressive observing target through any telescope. Using a telescope to view the Moon provides a stark contrast to naked-eye observation, offering increased detail and clarity, closer observation of celestial objects, and a three-dimensional experience with binoculars. The recommended magnification for viewing the Moon with a telescope is between 40x and 120x, with a minimum resolution of around 0.005 arcseconds. Telescopes with at least a 120mm aperture and a 1,000mm focal length are best for viewing the Moon’s surface, with a refracting telescope with a sizable aperture being recommended. The Moon’s surface features that can be observed with a telescope include impact craters, lunar highlands, Mare Imbrium, craters, mountains, and plains.

Quick Guide to Observe the Moon

Even the smallest telescope may be used to see the moon at any time, no matter where you are. The most effective tool for locating various moon features using a telescope is a lunar map. The half-moon that has a bright shadow on one side and sunlight on the other is ideal for lunar viewing. Center the moon in the finder as you point the scope in its direction. For a closer look, choose the lowest power eyepiece with the longest focal length. In this case, a 20 mm eyepiece or Barlow lens will perform better. Check the finder scope’s alignment if you are unable to locate the moon. Check your focus after you’ve located the moon. Mountains, craters, lunar maria, and oceans are all visible. You can see the moon very well via a 70mm telescope. The moon may be seen in its entirety with a 50x magnification.

Before we start with the main guide, make sure to choose a lunar map.

A lunar map is the best guide to finding different features of the moon through a telescope. Sky & Telescope Field Map of the Moon is the best lunar map according to the review as it provides both regular and mirror-reversed versions. Some telescopes like refractors and Cassegrains show the image left to right for which the mirror reversed versions are necessary. The map offers fine details of the moon though is folded in four to use easily while using a telescope. Besides the plastic laminating preserves it from dirt and moisture.

How to find the Moon?

  1. Point the scope towards the moon and center it in the finder.
  2. Use the lowest power eyepiece with the highest focal length for closer look. For example, a 20 mm eyepiece or Barlow lens will work better in this. If you cannot find the moon then check the alignment of the finder scope.
  3. After you find the Moon, check your focus.

What is the best time to observe the Moon?

Most people prefer the time around the full moon though it is the worst time for observation in fact. At this time sunlight falls on it directly overhead and the moon looks so bright that all the features are not discernable due to glare.

The best time for lunar observation is the two quarters when the moon is a quarter way around its orbit as the sunlight is falling from left or right. It will be a perfect half-moon with sunlight on its right half and a dark shadow on the other. Some people find it better two or three days after the first quarter. The position of the moon and the amount of light on it is the best for sorting out almost all significant features on it. The more the terminator (the line of darkness) retreats, the more the features appear with sharp details.

5 Tips to observe the Moon in the best way:

  • Generally, moon filters are not necessary. But on a moonlit night, you will not get clear details due to the glare. You can use the moon filter then. Moon filters are like sunglasses for a telescope. They reduce glare and improve contrast.
  • You can zoom in for closer views in two ways. Either exchange the eyepiece with one having a lower focal length or add a Barlow.
  • You may need to adjust the telescope after a while as the moon is drifting across the field of view due to the earth’s rotation.
  • The maximum useful magnification of a telescope is 50x. But to get the best view of the moon, you can magnify up to 150x. You can have 60x magnification using a 10mm eyepiece, and 120x magnification with 2x parallel. Zoom eyepieces also work best to magnify the views by changing the focal length
  • If you want to get more lunar features, examine the terminator.

What can you see on the Moon with a telescope?

  • Mountains like The lunar Alps, the Montes Alpes, the Pyrenees, Mons Piton and Mons Pico.
  • The crater Copernicus (2-3 days past first quarter) and a ray system surrounding this that looks like a gigantic splash pattern.
  • Tycho, one of the youngest of the major lunar craters.
  • Lunar maria or seas.
  • The American flag from Apollo 16 mission (a telescope with at least 200 mm aperture is needed for this)

What are the best Moon phases to observe?

Photo: Mare Serenitatis

  • On day 6 after the new moon, the moon is called the Crescent moon. You will get the terminator near the Theophilus chain with a great view of Mare Serenitatis, Mare Tranquillitatis, and the chain of Cyrillus and Catharina.
  •  It appears on day 8 after the new moon. The terminator is now at the Ptolemaeus chain with Apennines, Mare Imbrium, Aristillus and Autolycus, the Alps, and the trio of Archimedes and Plato.
  • You will get it on day 21 after the new moon with the terminator near Plato. It shows The western side of the Moon, Plato, the ray-crater Copernicus, the great crater Aristarchus with the darkest floor, etc.

What telescope to see the Moon?

Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector, and Celestron – NexStar 8SE Telescope – Computerized Telescope are great telescopes to see the Moon. A list of telescopes to see the moon has more telescope options that can see the moon very clearly.

What size telescope to see the Moon?

With a 70mm telescope, you will get great views of the moon. The more the aperture, the better and sharper the views and the details. But to get the best details you should have a telescope with at least 500 mm of aperture.

What magnification is required to see the Moon?

50x magnification is enough to show the whole moon. However, 150x magnification is better to see the details. The moon can tolerate high magnification more than all other objects in the night sky. It also helps to reduce glare from the moon.

Enjoying the Moon? Here are other things to see with your telescope.

A telescope reveals the wonders of the deep night sky. The telescope you use to observe the moon can show you the details of other night sky objects like Mercury, Venus, asteroids, Meteor Showers, and more. If you want to observe them, you can go through the list of things to see with a telescope which provides a shortlist of several night sky objects you can observe with different telescopes.