Sail a hidden sea

Burnham, Robert
May 2005
Astronomy;May2005, Vol. 33 Issue 5, p68
The article notes that not all of the Moon's seas are easily visible. Some lie buried beneath the lunar plains, covered by debris from later impacts. Large, dark sheets of basaltic lava cover a sixth of the Moon's nearside. While some craters pock the maria, on the whole, they lie largely undisturbed because no big impacts have struck since the lava ceased to flow around two billion years ago. However, the visible maria are not the only ones the Moon has: in several places, ancient layers of lava lie buried by later deposits. Lunar scientists term these old lava sheets cryptomare. One patch of cryptomare lies near the large crater Schickard in the southwest part of the nearside, where sunrise occurs a couple of days before Full Moon. The largest crater in the field, Schickard, has a diameter of 140 miles. Craters five to ten miles across pepper the western part of Schickard's floor. With high magnification during moments of good seeing, you can spot even smaller ones in its eastern and northern sections. Besides the craters inside Schickard, note the many similar-size ones to the west.


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