Bates College

Astronomy/Geology 110

Lunar and Planetary Science


You probably know enough of the geography of your home continent to draw a simple map, roughly to scale, identifying the various countries, large rivers, and principal mountain ranges. You could probably get most of the borders right, showing what is in contact with what. Well, wherever you live on Earth, the nearside of the Moon is part of your neighborhood! You should be able to take a blank sheet of paper, draw a circle on it, and sketch in the locations of the major maria, some of the largest or most interesting craters, a few of the major mountain ranges, and the few sites which have been visited by explorers, both human and mechanical. I expect you to be able to do this. The list of features is below. You can take this "test" any time you wish, and as many times as you wish, but not more than once in any week. You just stop by and I give you the list and a blank sheet of paper, and you draw your map.

I will "grade" these maps on a scale of 100 points (which counts only 5% of the final grade). To encourage you to do this early in the semester, I will deduct 20 percent from the score of any "test" you take after February 7, unless you took the test at least once on or before February 7 and got a score of at least 60. This date is at the end of the 5th class week.

To get ready to do this, you should go to the library and look at any of the several atlases of the Moon which can be found there, and make or sketch a copy for yourself, and look in the "gazetteer", if necessary, to locate the places. Then hang your map by the mirror in the bathroom or keep it by your bed.... Pretty soon you will know the Moon like your own back yard! You should also be sure to take your map outside and compare it with the real Moon- which is available in the sky near you! You should be able to identify the maria easily. Do not feel that I expect you to draw a fantastically accurate map of the Moon, just to get these major things (which will be useful to us) in roughly the right places.

One warning is in order. Until about 1960, maps of the Moon were traditionally drawn upsidedown, as that is the way the Moon appears in many astronomical telescopes. After about 1960, the geologists and cartographers took the Moon away from the astronomers and started drawing the maps rightsideup. So pay attention to what you are doing. And if you have any doubts? Well, just go out and look at the Moon, of course!

I reserve the right to add things to the list through the semester, so if you wait until late in the semester to take the "test" you might have to know more craters per point, so think about that!

The List


You should draw on your map the location of the Moon's north and south poles.

Maria (Seas) and Oceanus (Ocean)

You should draw on your map the following Maria and the one Oceanus:

  1. Mare Cognitum (Known Sea)
  2. Mare Crisium (Sea of Crises)
  3. Mare Fecunditatis (Sea of Fertility)
  4. Mare Frigoris (Sea of Cold)
  5. Mare Humorum (Sea of Moisture)
  6. Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains)
  7. Mare Nectaris (Sea of Nectar)
  8. Mare Nubium (Sea of Clouds)
  9. Mare Serenitatis (Sea of Serenity)
  10. Mare Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquillity)
  11. Mare Vaporum (Sea of Vapors)
  12. Oceanus Procellarum (Ocean of Storms)


You should draw on your map the following craters:

  1. Archimedes
  2. Clavius
  3. Copernicus
  4. Descartes
  5. Eratosthenes
  6. Euler
  7. Littrow
  8. Plato
  9. Tycho

Other Features

You should draw on your map the following other features:

  1. Central Lunar Highlands
  2. Descartes Highlands
  3. Fra Mauro Highlands
  4. Montes Apenninus (Apennine Mountains)
  5. Montes Carpatus (Carpathian Mountains)
  6. Montes Taurus (Taurus Mountains)
  7. Palus Putredinis (Marsh of Rot, or Swamp of Decay)
  8. Rima Hadley (Hadley Rille)
  9. Sinus Aestuum (Bay of Billows)
  10. Sinus Iridum (Bay of Rainbows)
  11. Sinus Medii (Central Bay)
  12. Sinus Roris (Bay of Dew)
  13. Taurus-Littrow Valley

Farside Features

The following features are mainly on the farside of the Moon and barely visible at the "edge" from Earth. Mark their locations along the edge of your map: (Of course, because of the "libration" of the moon, what is meant by the "edge" is not constant. You should gradually learn why this is so.)

  1. Aitken Basin
  2. Mare Orientale (Eastern Sea)


You should know roughly where the following spacecraft landed, and mark them on your map:

  1. Apollo 11
  2. Apollo 12
  3. Apollo 14
  4. Apollo 15
  5. Apollo 16
  6. Apollo 17
  7. Luna 16
  8. Luna 20
  9. Luna 24
  10. Ranger 7
  11. Surveyor 3

Back to Overview