Einstein said: “I like to think that the Moon is there, even if I am not looking at it”. Everyone has already stared at the Moon for at least a few seconds, especially when it’s full, and seen some of the lunar maria, those dark, basaltic plains formed by ancient volcanic eruptions.
If you are lucky enough to own a telescope, the Moon can be a really wonderful object to observe (even a simple pair of binoculars can reveal beautiful details of our satellite’s surface).
Recently, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) created the most accurate map ever of the near side of the Moon. The spacecraft was orbiting the Moon 50 kilometers above the surface, and thanks to the data collected over two weeks, scientists were able to produce this image:
You can browse the full size image here, but you’d better have a super fast connection, a lot of patience, and a cold room (because it’s gonna get really hot there)… Or you can also go here, and you will be able to browse and zoom in the surface of the near side of the Moon, up to a pretty impressive resolution. Here is an example of what you can get, with the Posidonius Crater, which is 95 kilometers wide (click to enlarge):
As you can see, the quality is truly amazing, and you have the whole surface of the near side of the Moon to have fun with. A lot of interesting features can be seen here and there, and if you are curious, you will find yourself spending a lot of time looking at this image.
So go there, and have a nice trip on the near side of the Moon!