Sunday, 29 July 2012

Tonight's 87% Moon reveals the Moon Maiden...

On my bookshelf sits a small little blue book titled "Peeps at the Heavens"

This book was printed in 1911, by the Reverend James Baikie F.R.A.S

One of the highlights in "Peeps at the Heavens" has to be on page 41, where the Rev Baikie talks of the Moon Maiden ........ and I quote:

"But perhaps the most interesting of all the faces is that called the "Moon Maiden," which is shown in plate VIII. It can only be seen with the telescope, and only when the Sun happens to shine upon it in exactly the right way. 

I have only seen it twice myself in twenty- five years.; but perhaps some fine night you may get a chance to see  this face of the Moon Maiden, with her long hair floating behind her, looking out from the cape of the Bay of Rainbows across the Sea of Showers."

Plate VII  "The Moon Maiden"
Well tonight I managed to catch a glimpse of that most beautiful of maidens....

Tonight's Lunar viewing was timed just right, the clouds stayed away, and the gap in our tree line framed the 87% illuminated waxing Moon perfectly.

I quickly opened the side windows of the observatory, trained the Tal's finder onto the lunar orb, and focused the 15mm Kellner. 

I was greeted with very steady seeing, and many lunar features stood out beautifully.  

Oddly I noticed that Proclus's ejecta rays had a hint of rainbow colour in them, what would cause this I don't know..!

I then headed South.....

After a couple minutes of viewing Clavius and it's surrounding companions I moved again Northwards...towards the Sinus Iridum...and then I saw her... the Moon Maiden....!

She was unmistakeable,  as the Rev Blaikie said "looking out from the cape of the Bay of Rainbows across the Sea of Showers"

I managed to take some pictures and a small video for posterity. 

The images hint at the presence of the Moon Maiden, though the naked eye views where outstanding....

I enjoyed another five minutes of lunar gazing.... and then the dreaded clouds returned!!

The Moon Maiden.... looking out to sea....

As the Rev Blaikie mentions .... "I have only seen it twice myself in twenty- five years"

I wonder when I will see her again.... ?


  1. Oh my what else will the Pembs pull off of his book shelf! It is a shelf of wonderful old school astronomy - just what we need today! I really like the view from the shed!!!!!

    We were on the same page last evening. For as I saw Selene rise from my far western outpost and raised my bino's to her globe I thought "tonight is the night of the maiden!!!!" Always a glorious sight even if only imagined through the 20X70's!

    Last evenings shadow line also shirted western Mare Humorum with the Gassendi/A complex in wonderful relief. I wonder if the maiden was casting a longing gaze southward toward this Lunar mimic of a diamond ring?

    1. Hi SUG, I love those old astronomy books, old school for me everytime..

      When the darker nights descend again, I'll be sitting in the observatory, no electricity, recording observations by candlelight..

      I find the candlelight doesn't spoil my dark adaptation, it also allows me to see better than with a red light.

      I think I was born in the wrong century.. ha ha !! :0)

      "tonight is the night of the maiden" You were thinking the same :0)... brilliant... Yes every time old Selene goes waxing gibbous I think of the Moon Maiden.. :0)

      Though often in Pembrokeshire she doesn't look her best... but last night she really stood out in the eyepiece...good old Tal1 :0)

      Yes I noticed Gassendi was looking wonderful, hanging as it did on the terminator..

      "I wonder if the maiden was casting a longing gaze southward toward this Lunar mimic of a diamond ring?"

      I like that, I hadn't thought of Gassendi as the ring, with Clarkson as the diamond...... brilliant SUG...

      From now on in the pembs observatory, Gassendi shall be a diamond ring for the Maiden.. :0)

      Pembs :0)