Shadows aren’t always black on the Moon

Moon Zoo team member Dr Tony Cook sent me a link to Censorinus Crater which is south-east of Mare Tranquillitatis. At first glance it looks like one of the many craters we see in shadow. But this one is different. As Tony says:

“Despite the floor being almost shadow filled, plenty of interior detail is visible, including some shadows off boulders and craters. Presumably the source of illumination is from the sunlit side of the rim just out of the image field of view.”

The above image is just a taster. Better still have a look at the NAC image: M117277348RE and zoom in to see landslides and boulders clearly visible in the shadows. Stare into the depths – the more you stare the more you’ll see. You will come across these shadowy images from time to time so have a good look around them when you do but be careful to interpret what you see correctly. As Moon Zoo team member astrostu points out even though there are some features that can be clearly seen in shadowed areas, we must be careful about reading too much into image artifacts.  Moon Zoo images have been compressed and will display blocky-looking features in regions of lower contrast.


Dr Tony Cook is a research lecturer at the Institute of Physics and Mathematics at Aberystwyth University. He researches into automated planetary cartography, and impact flash and change detection on the lunar surface. He is also Assistant Director of the British Astronomical Association Lunar Section.

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