Walking the Moon with my own Photos - Overview

Overview of my Moon Walks | Information about the Moon | Elements of the Moon Surface | Books | Software | References

On these pages I "walk the moon" on the basis of my own photos. In other words, I try to name the objects on my lunar photos to get to know the moon better. Maybe these pages will help others to get to know the moon better as well...

On this page, I provide an overview of the "moon walks" and some information about the moon. See alsp page How Small Objects Can You Recognize on the Moon?


Overview my Moon Walks


Information about the Moon


Mean distance from the earth 384,400 km
Closet distance 356,000 km
Farthest distance 407,000 km
Diameter 3,476 km
Circumference 10,920 km
Mass 1/81 earth masses
Specific weight 3.3 g/ccm
Sidereal orbit period (star - star) 27.32 days
Synodic orbit period (New Moon - New Moon) 29.53 days
Smallest angular diameter 29' 26"
Largest angular diameter 33' 30"
Overseeable area (thanks to the libration) 59%


Elements of the Moon Surface

See also page Moon Landscapes - Part 1 and page page Moon Landscapes - Part 2

Designations of Moon Formations with Short Explanations

Latein Englisch** Short Explanation (IAU*) Short Explanation According to Spix & Gasparini
Catena Chain of craters    
Crater Crater A circular depression Mostly depressions caused by primary or secondary impact, rarely of volcanic origin
Dorsa Ridge   Sea ridges mostly occur within complex systems of ridges.
Dorsum Ridge system   Curved to linear very flat elevations (approx. 100 m) in seas and oceans
Lacus Lake "Lake" or small plain

Dark, lava-flooded area framed by highlands (similar to seas, but probably smaller)

Mare Sea "Sea"; large circular plain Large dark areas
Mons Mountain   Singular mountain
Montes Mountains  

Remains of mighty crater walls created by meteorite impacts

Oceanus Ocean A very large dark area on the moon Obviously, oceans are larger than seas...
Palus Swamp "Swamp"; small plain Lava-flooded areas of irregular shape and up to 250 km in size
Promontorium Cape "Cape"; headland promontoria Endpoints of narrow highland areas projecting far into the seas and oceans
Rima Fissure   Straight (collapsed valley) or winding (broken lava channels) depressions
Rimae Fissure system   System of depressions
Rupes Scarp   Groove, steep slope / mountain slope, cliff; in reality rather gentle slopes (< 30 degrees)
Sinus Bay "Bay"; small plain Bulges of sea areas into the adjacent highlands, covered by lava
Terra Continent Extensive land mass Bright areas on the moon surface
Vallis Valley   Often hundreds of kilometers long and up to several hundred meters deep, straight or winding depressions

*) According to IAU nomenclature (** in part...)

Elements of the Moon Surface - in Brief

Elements of the Moon Surface - Short Version (According to Spix moonscout, Adapted)

Elements of the Moon Surface - Long Version (After Spix, Adapted)

Seas and Highlands

Seas (lat. Mare) are largely flat, often circular basins and irregular depressions, which very created by the impact of very large celestial bodies that hit the lunar crust and which were later flooded with dark lava.

Highlands (lat. Terra) are the bright areas of the moon's surface. They used to be considered continents. They are structured like mountains, dotted with countless craters and traversed by valleys, making them the most richly structured lunar surfaces.

Craters, Ring Mountains and Wall Plains

Craters are the most common lunar formations and are usually also caused by meteorite impacts. They are roughly divided into the following classes:

Mountains and Valleys

The "real" mountains (lat. Montes) of the moon usually run along the edges of the moon seas. They are mighty crater walls which were formed during the formation of the moon seas and later partly flooded with lava. They reach heights of up to several thousand meters. In the telescope, the mountains look very rugged due to the shadow cast. In fact, however, they are more comparable to huge hills.

Single standing mountains (lat. Mons) are to be found practically only in the moon seas. These mountains are also peaks of crater walls rising from the lava-covered plains.

Valleys (lat. Vallis) are divided into three types according to their different history:

Grooves and Furrows

Due to their different origin, grooves (lat. Rima) are divided into different types:

The term furrow (lat. Rupes) is equated with a whole series of terms: steep slope, mountain slope, or cliff.
Essentially, two types are to be distinguished:

Latin and English Names of Seas/Oceans

Mare Cognitum Sea of Knowledge
Mare Crisium Sea of Dangers
Mare Fecunditatis Sea of Fertility
Mare Frigoris Sea of Cold
Mare Humorum Sea of Moisture
Mare Imbrium Sea of Rain
Mare Nectaris Sea of Nectar
Mare Nubium Sea of Clouds
Mare Serenitatis Sea of Cheerfulness
Mare Tranquilitatis Sea of Calm/Tranquility
Mare Vaporum Sea of Vapors
Oceanus Procellarum Ocean of Storms



Regrettably, I only own books about the moon in the German language.

moonscout - Mondmeere, Krater und Gebirge einfach finden und beobachten

This book for beginners (like me) provides an overview of what you can see during the phases of the moon. This is complemented by a list of selected lunar objects in which they are explained in more detail. But whoever wants to know what he or she has photographed on the moon, soon becomes aware of the limitations of this book...

Front and back cover

Sample page (introduction)

Sample page (overview, 3rd night)

Sample page (9th and 11th night)

Sample page (details)

Sample page (lists)

Der Moonhopper

The book Der Moonhopper by Spix & Gasparini consists of a general section plus 20 moon tours. For me, similar to the Deep Sky Reiseführer, the general section is of great value. The moon tours require more attention to detail, and unfortunately I did not have much time for this yet...

Front and back cover

Sample page (general part)

Sample page (tours)

Table of contents

Reiseatlas Mond

The book Reiseatlas Mond (travel atlas of the moon) by Stoyan and Purucker provides very nice and detailed maps of the moon. These are even more detailed than the maps of the software application Virtual Moon Atlas (see below). However, as nice as the atlas is, I do have two problems with it:

Front and back cover pages

Overview of the maps

Sample page

Further sample page

101 Objects to See in the Night Sky (101 Himmelsobjekte, die man gesehen haben muss)

Note: Regrettably, this very useful book seems to be out of print - at least, in Germany. I managed however, to buy used copies, because I wanted to give this book away as a gift. I assume that the English version is also out of print, because is has an ASIN number.

The book 101 Objects to See in the Night Sky (German version: 101 Himmelsobjekte, die man gesehen haben muss) by Robin Scagell is primarily directed at young sky observers, but also at older star friends and people who return to the astronomy hobby. It can therefore rightfully be called a "beginner's book," and since I regard myself as a "permanent beginner" I looked into the book and bought it, because it convinced me, although I have already observed a considerable fraction of the objects that are described in the book. Thus, this book serves me as a "reference" for the most important objects in the sky, and as a "reminder" of my own observations. In addition, the book deals with the moon, which I have so far paid little attention to in detail (for example, craters and mares).

Front cover of 101 Himmelsobjekte, die man gesehen haben muss

Complete cover of 101 Himmelsobjekte, die man gesehen haben muss

Table of contents

Sample double page about the moon



Virtual Moon Atlas

The Virtual Moon Atlas is a great piece of open source software, but perhaps a little outdated. And it is not as "attractive" as the Moon Globe app (see below). Nevertheless, it is useful for me, because it provids me with information that Moon Globe does not deliver, especially the names of small caters and information about them (like diameters).

The last update was in 2012 and my Macintosh version does not run at all. Luckily, I can also run Windows on my Macintosh computer and so I use the Windows version. From time to time, however, it freezes on my computer, and I habe to restart AtLun, which is the moon atlas.


Thewhole moon...


... and a section at maximum magnification

Moon Globe (HD)

Moon Globe (HD) is a 3D simulation of earth's moon that you can manipulate with the multitouch screen. It features realistic realtime lighting, a catalog of lunar features, and a compass to show the Sun and Moon's position in the sky (from the developer's Website).

I personally think that this is a great piece of software for exploring the moon. I also bought the HD version.


Lower magnification, similar regio as above


Higher magnification


At the terminator - not as pronounced as in reality...




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