Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014
By Kadri

The Hatfield Lunar Atlas, edited by Anthony Cook

Rating: 8/10

The Hatfield Lunar Atlas is a classic atlas that has survived over several editions from 1968 and came out in 2012 as a digitally re-mastered edition and another edition was published in 2014.

Although a Lunar Atlas would almost seem to expect that it's user would know why and what for he or she is planning to use it for, then in the introduction you can also get some more ideas as to what one might do when observing the Moon and how can amateur astronomers contribute to Lunar Science.

Also as a good teacher would start a lesson, the books editor first goes over the "safety procedures", but also the necessary equipment and suggestions for choosing a telescope. And when you've finally set up your telescope you can find out about what could you do with it - for example sketch different craters or the same crater at different phases of the Moon, to see how it's appearance changes, you can find instructions on how to sketch in this book. There are some other projects both for beginners and advanced amateur astronomers so from simple imaging of the Lunar surface and stacking the images using software such as Registax, but all the way up to recording occultations, changes in Earthshine, and also impact flashes from meteorites hitting the surface of the Moon.

The main part of the book is of-course the maps and photographs of the Moon. The line-drawn maps are clear and helpful, as well as photographs of the same areas of the Moon at different phases. It is really impressive how one feature can look in different light - flat and dull near full moon and mysterious and sharp under different lighting-conditions.

So you can use the atlas to find an interesting area of the Moon to photograph, or observe or look at different features like rilles and domes. I find that the rilles are rather interesting features that might seem slightly unexpected on the Moon, as they look like channels and are thought to have formed through lava-flows, but the exact mechanisms aren't even known yet.

You can also see some computer-simulated sunrise and sunset pictures of certain craters at different times and then try to observe the craters at the right time and see whether or not they look the same. Some 19th century astronomers actually tried a different way for the simulations - they made models of the lunar surface after their observations and looked at how the craters shape seemed to change when a light is at a different angle.

In appendices you can find some necessary flowcharts so you wouldn't mistake a normal feature on the moon for a transient lunar phenomena.

Also you can find an index of named features, with their coordinates and radii.

Although the Moon might seem just as a spotted disk in the sky, going through an atlas like this opens up a whole different world if you look at the lunar features more closely - you might notice that some craters obviously have to be older than others when one is on top of the other, but then there are some that at some point must have been flooded by lava-flows.

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