Exploring Aristarchus

Seronik-Gibbous Moon

The bright crater Aristarchus is positioned near the terminator in this photo of a gibbous Moon.

Aristarchus is one of the most interesting craters on the lunar surface. It’s an eye-catchingly bright 40-kilometre-wide impact crater situated on the Aristarchus Plateau — the surrounding diamond shaped area.

Aristarchus map

Aristarchus and its surroundings.

Use 100× in your telescope and look closely at Aristarchus. You should be able to see the usual vertical banding on the interior crater wall. The region surrounding Aristarchus is full of interesting features as well, not least of which is the 160-km-long Schröter’s Valley, which was likely carved by flowing lavas long ago.

The Aristarchus region is not only visually fascinating, it’s also one of great historical interest. Perhaps no other region of the lunar surface has received as much attention from those hoping to see transient lunar phenomena (TLP), which would indicate ongoing volcanic activity. In spite of decades of effort, no convincing evidence for TLP has surfaced.