The Moon Through a Telescope

So far, we have observed the Moon just as our ancestors did, thousands of years ago. About 400 years ago, telescopes were invented and exciting new views of the Moon were possible. Let’s see how our Moon looks through a telescope.

VISUAL 4 (still): Moon Through a Telescope
Moon Through a Telescope

Pretend we are looking through the eyepiece of a telescope. Let’s aim it at the moon.

What features can you see? 

[Dark areas, light areas, little circle.]

The light areas are mountainous regions.

What type of terrain do you think we would find in the darker areas? [Flat.]

The first person to carefully examine objects in the sky through a telescope was a man named Galileo Galilei, an Italian scientist who lived about 400 years ago. He also thought those dark areas were flat, but he called them “maria,” the Italian word for ocean.

Do you think they are really oceans? 

[There really is very little water on the moon, and certainly no oceans.] 

Galileo also looked at the planet Mars and saw how it looked different from stars. Stars are much farther away and look like pinpoints of light, while nearby planets such as Mars can be seen as balls through a telescope.

DIGITAL EFFECT: Telescopic Mars
Scale the Moon image down, and scale up a modest telescopic image of Mars.
VISUAL 5 (still): Mars Through a Telescope
Mars Through a Telescope