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On the Limb with Alika

January 25, 2004

Image Credit: Communications, Lunar & Planetary Lab

On the Limb with Alika

Anyone who read Sky & Telescope during the late 1950s and early 1960s was treated to wonderful drawings of the Moon by artist and observer Alika Herring. Of Hawaiian origin, Alika was also a famous Hawaiian steel guitar player and a master mirror maker at Cave Optical Company. Gerard Kuiper hired Alika to work at the Lunar & Planetary Lab in Tucson in the early 1960s where I had the pleasure of knowing him. At this time - pre-Lunar Orbiters - the farside of the Moon was nearly unknown and the limb was poorly depicted in existing charts. Alika used photos taken with the LPL 61" reflector and his own visual observations to chart the entire limb regions in a series of 12 maps. These drawings are little known because they were only published in the Communication of the LPL. This drawing depicts the region immediately limbward of Mare Crisium - I have added a few names for orientation. Did you notice that the perspective is not the foreshortened view as seen from Earth, but an overhead view, as later acquired by orbiting spacecraft? This view was obtained by projecting a normal lunar photo onto a 36" diameter white globe, and then photographing this now rectified image from overhead. I bet amateurs can now do the same using software!

Related Links:
"Rectified Drawings of the Lunar Limb Areas, 1" by A.K. Herring, Communication 12, Lunar and Planetary Lab., University of Arizona, 1961.
Herring Reminiscence
"Master Optician, Master Observer" by O. Richard Norton, Sky & Telescope May 1995, 81-86.

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