Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Six Lunar Maria Shape the Man in the Moon for Northern Hemisphere Viewers


Summary: Six lunar maria, which are actually dark basaltic plains, shape the full moon phase’s iconic Man in the Moon for Northern Hemisphere viewers.


lunar features that compose the Man in the Moon, as seen from Earth; 1=Mare Imbrium (“Sea of Showers”); 2=Mare Tranquillitatis (“Sea of Tranquility”); 3=Mare Vaporum (“Sea of Vapors”); 4=Mare Insularum (“Sea of Islands”); 5=Mare Cognitum (“Sea That Has Become Known”); 6=Mare Nubium (“Sea of Clouds”): Luc Viatour, CC BY SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As dark basaltic plains originating in ancient volcanic eruptions, six lunar maria shape the full moon phase’s iconic Man in the Moon mainly for Northern Hemisphere moongazers.
Two maria form the face’s eyes. Mare Imbrium (“Sea of Showers”) in the northwestern quadrant marks the Man in the Moon’s right eye. Mare Imbrium has a diameter of 1,145.53 kilometers. Mare Imbrium’s center latitude is 34.72 degrees, and its center longitude is minus 14.91 degrees. Its latitudinal and longitudinal parameters are northernmost and southernmost latitudinal reaches of 51.46 and 15.23 degrees, respectively, and easternmost and westernmost longitudinal reaches of 8.56 and minus 38.36 degrees, respectively.
Often Mare Tranquillitatis (“Sea of Tranquility”) in the near side’s northeastern quadrant serves as the Man in the Moon’s left eye. Mare Tranquillitatis has a diameter of 875.75 kilometers. Its center latitude is 8.35 degrees, and its center longitude is 30.83 degrees. Its latitudinal and longitudinal parameters are northernmost and southernmost latitudinal reaches of 19.37 and minus 4.05 degrees, respectively, and easternmost and westernmost longitudinal reaches of 45.49 and 16.92 degrees, respectively.
Alternatively, Mare Serenitatis (“Sea of Serenity”), also in the northeastern quadrant, distinguishes the Man in the Moon’s left eye. Mare Serenitatis has a diameter of 674.28 kilometers. Its center latitude is 27.29 degrees, and its center longitude is 18.36 degrees. Its latitudinal and longitudinal parameters are northernmost and southernmost latitudinal reaches of 37.81 and 16.13 degrees, respectively, and easternmost and westernmost longitudinal reaches of 29.92 and 6.59 degrees, respectively.
Substitution of Mare Serenitatis yields a closer-eyed variant of the Man in the Moon. The center-to-center latitude/longitude distance from Mare Imbrium as the right eye to Mare Serenitatis as the left eye is 889.15 kilometers.
Mare Imbrium’s easternmost extent and Mare Serenitatis’ westernmost extent reveal the closeness of the two maria. Mare Imbrium’s easternmost longitudinal reach is 8.56 degrees. Located east of Mare Imbrium, Mare Serenitatis has a westernmost longitudinal reach of 6.59 degrees.
The center-to-center latitude/longitude distance from Mare Imbrium as the right eye to Mare Tranquillitatis as the left eye is 1,499.105 kilometers. Connecting with Mare Serenitatis’ southeastern border, Mare Tranquillitatis lies on the farthest side of the Sea of Serenity from Mare Imbrium.
Two maria usually establish the face’s nose. Mare Vaporum (“Sea of Vapors”), stretching across the near side’s northeastern and southeastern quadrants, contributes the upper part of the Man in the Moon’s nose. Mare Vaporum has a diameter of 242.46 kilometers. Mare Vaporum’s center latitude is 13.2 degrees, and its center longitude is 4.09 degrees. Its latitudinal and longitudinal parameters are northernmost and southernmost latitudinal reaches of 16.91 and 9.39 degrees, respectively, and easternmost and westernmost longitudinal reaches of 8.73 and minus 0.41 degrees, respectively.
Mare Insularum (“Sea of Islands”) in the southwestern quadrant finishes the lower part of the face’s nose. Mare Insularum’s diameter measures 511.93 kilometers. Mare Insularum’s center latitude is 7.79 degrees, and its center longitude is minus 30.64 degrees. Its latitudinal and longitudinal parameters are northernmost and southernmost latitudinal reaches of 16.35 and minus 0.6 degrees, respectively, and easternmost and westernmost longitudinal reaches of minus 22.15 and minus 39.2 degrees, respectively.
Sometimes Sinus Aestuum (“Seething Bay”) is credited with singly composing the face’s nose. The dark lava plain comprises Mare Insularum’s northeastern extension. Irregular terrain on the bay’s eastern border separates Sinus Aestuum from Mare Vaporum.
Sinus Aestuum has a diameter of 316.5 kilometers. Sinus Aestuum’s center latitude is 12.1 degrees, and its center longitude is minus 8.34 degrees. Its latitudinal and longitudinal parameters are northernmost and southernmost latitudinal reaches of 15.71 and 7.6 degrees, respectively, and easternmost and westernmost longitudinal reaches of minus 4.26 and minus 11.96 degrees, respectively.
Two maria outline the face’s open mouth. Mare Cognitum (“Sea That Has Become Known”) in the southwestern quadrant depicts the right side of the Man in the Moon’s mouth. Mare Cognitum has a diameter of 350.01 kilometers. Mare Cognitum’s center latitude is minus 10.53 degrees, and its center longitude is minus 22.31 degrees. Its latitudinal and longitudinal parameters are northernment and southernmost latitudinal reaches of minus 5.9 and minus 13.92 degrees, respectively, and easternmost and westernmost longitudinal reaches of minus 16.45 and minus 28.1 degrees, respectively.
Mare Nubium (“Sea of Clouds”) in the southwestern quadrant shapes the left side of the Man in the Moon’s mouth. Mare Nubium’s diameter measures 714.5 kilometers. Mare Nubium’s center latitude is minus 20.59 degrees, and its center longitude is minus 17.29 degrees. Its latitudinal and longitudinal parameters are northernment and southernmost latitudinal reaches of minus 11.85 and minus 30.48 degrees, respectively, and easternmost and westernmost longitudinal reaches of minus 5.45 and minus 29.27 degrees, respectively.
The perception of a human face in formations on the lunar surface constitutes an aspect of pareidolia. The psychological phenomenon of pareidolia (Ancient Greek: παρα, para, “concurrent, alongside” + εἴδωλον, eídōlon, “image”) recognizes familiar patterning of animals, faces or objects in unrelated objects or shapes. Dark and light areas on the moon’s densely cratered near side encourage lunar pareidolia.
Moongazers in the Northern Hemisphere enjoy the clearly pareidolic Man in the Moon. Southern Hemisphere have a different view of the moon. Their “upside down” view accounts for opposite shining of the lunar disk for quarter, waning and waxing phases. For example, waxing phases illuminate the right side of the lunar disk for Northern Hemisphere viewers and the left side of the lunar disk for Southern Hemisphere moongazers.
The takeaway for the six lunar maria that usually shape the Man in the Moon in the lunar full phase for Northern Hemisphere moongazers is that the densely cratered near side of Earth’s moon beams a friendly face that enchants young and old alike and makes the universe a friendly place.

Earth’s moon appears differently to Northern and Southern Hemisphere viewers, as shown in modeled appearances, via Stellarium planetarium software, for equivalent northern and southern locations, approximately 30 minutes after local moonrise, Dec. 24, 2015;
(left) Man in the Moon over Berlin, Germany, 52 degrees north 13 degrees east;
(right) faceless moon over Southern Ocean, 52 degrees south 13 degrees east:
Bard Anton Zajac, CC BY SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Acknowledgment
My special thanks to:
Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.
Image credits:
lunar features that compose the Man in the Moon, as seen from Earth; 1=Mare Imbrium (“Sea of Showers”); 2=Mare Tranquillitatis (“Sea of Tranquility”); 3=Mare Vaporum (“Sea of Vapors”); 4=Mare Insularum (“Sea of Islands”); 5=Mare Cognitum (“Sea That Has Become Known”); 6=Mare Nubium (“Sea of Clouds”): Luc Viatour, CC BY SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons @ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Man_in_the_Moon.jpg
Earth’s moon appears differently to Northern and Southern Hemisphere viewers, as shown in modeled appearances, via Stellarium planetarium software, for equivalent northern and southern locations, approximately 30 minutes after local moonrise, Dec. 24, 2015: Bard Anton Zajac, CC BY SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons @ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Modeled_moon_appearance_for_same_longitude_30_minutes_after_moonrise.jpg

For further information:
Grego, Peter. The Moon and How to Observe It. Astronomers’ Observing Guides. London, England: Springer-Verlag London Limited, 2005.
“Lunar Distance Calculator.” Lunar and Planetary Institute > Lunar Search > Computational Tools.
Available @ http://www.lpi.usra.edu/lunar/tools/lunardistancecalc/
“Mare Cognitum.” Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature > Nomenclature > The Moon. Last updated Oct. 18, 2010.
Available @ http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/Feature/3670
“Mare Imbrium.” Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature > Nomenclature > The Moon. Last updated Oct. 18, 2010.
Available @ http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/Feature/3678;jsessionid=D942DFD79FFD27C2E613A2924555A228
“Mare Insularum.” Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature > Nomenclature > The Moon. Last updated Oct. 18, 2010.
Available @ http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/Feature/3680;jsessionid=D942DFD79FFD27C2E613A2924555A228
“Mare Nubium.” Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature > Nomenclature > The Moon. Last updated Oct. 18, 2010.
Available @ http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/Feature/3684;jsessionid=D942DFD79FFD27C2E613A2924555A228
“Mare Serenitatis.” Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature > Nomenclature > The Moon. Last updated Oct. 18, 2010.
Available @ http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/Feature/3686;jsessionid=59BBADB70DF05DAC575EA914722751CB
“Mare Tranquillitatis.” Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature > Nomenclature > The Moon. Last updated Oct. 18, 2010.
Available @ http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/Feature/3691;jsessionid=D942DFD79FFD27C2E613A2924555A228
“Mare Vaporum.” Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature > Nomenclature > The Moon. Last updated Oct. 18, 2010.
Available @ http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/Feature/3694;jsessionid=D942DFD79FFD27C2E613A2924555A228
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Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2016/07/fallen-astronauts-plaque-and-sculpture.html
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Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2016/06/june-2016s-waning-gibbous-moon-shows.html
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Available @ https://earth-and-space-news.blogspot.com/2016/05/may-2016s-waning-gibbous-moon-shows.html
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Available @ http://www.universetoday.com/45970/the-view-from-down-under/
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Available @ http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/sciencefair/2016/07/20/man-in-moon-asteroid-mare-imbrium/87338842/
“Sinus Aestuum.” Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature > Nomenclature > The Moon. Last updated Oct. 18, 2010.
Available @ http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/Feature/5558
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Available @ http://oneminuteastronomer.com/2154/man-in-the-moon/
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Available via CalTech @ http://www.caltech.edu/content/looking-man-moon
Available via EurekAlert! @ https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-03/ciot-lat030612.php

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