Sunday, 5 October 2014

Stumbling across the Bay of Rainbows

Last night's deep sky viewing plan was hampered somewhat by the 3/4 moon shining a bit too brightly in the background. I wasn't going to miss the clear sky opportunity so turned the scope to take a look at the lunar spectacle instead. I'm not rehearsed in moon astronomy, but continue to be amazed by how its features look through the telescope each time. Not having any astro-photography knowledge, or equipment to write home about, I usually end up trying to catch a shot by merely holding up my iPhone 5s to the eyepiece. Trial and error, point and shoot - and wait till later to inspect the results!

These are some of the images I managed to capture last night...

Later, reading tweets from astro friends, I noticed comments about the "Bay of Rainbows" showing up on the moon tonight. I did a quick search for images of the feature to see what it looked like and then compared back with my own photos. To my delight, I'd unwittingly captured a feint view of the Bay of rainbows in my photos too!

A bit of further research turned up the following facts about the Bay of Rainbows:

  1. the official name for the Bay of Rainbows is Sinus Iridum
  2. it is visible when the moon is in its first quarter, when the area is highlighted by the terminator
  3. the feature is a semi circle, in the larger feature known as the sea of rains
  4. the bay has a smooth lava floor, tiny jewel like craters and is walled by the Jura mountains
A much clearer, closer view of the Bay of Rainbows and its stunning features is shown below...

There is an interesting article "Sunrise on the Bay of Rainbows" by One-Minute Astronomer here...