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Outrageous Lunar Colors

January 28, 2004

Image Credit: Filipe Alves

Outrageous Lunar Colors

All observers know the Moon is almost entirely a monochrome world with only subtle hints of color. And we have all seen the colorful lunar images composited from spacecraft data acquired through red, blue and green filters. But this extravagantly colored Moon is remarkable for being obtained by an amateur in Lisbon, Portugal who used a normal digital camera, with no filters. As with the NASA images the colors represent variations of the composition of surface soils. The biggest distinction is between the yellow to pink shading of the lunar highlands, and the blues and yellow-blues of the maria. The darkest blue regions - Mare Tranquillitatis and Sinus Midii - have the most titanium-rich mare lavas, and the sharp color boundaries in maria Serenitatis and Imbrium delineate lava flows with somewhat different compositions. Rays from Tycho, near Stevinus, Thales and Anaxagoras stand out as spokes of brightness. Congratulations, Filipe!

Technical Details:
This image is the result of a composite of several moon images taken on 8 December 2003. It was taken with a Canon 300D mounted in prime focus of a 10" Newtonian, and I added some closeups with a 2x Barlow. I used Photoshop to enhance the saturation levels of a group of stacked images at 16-bit per channel/pixel. The close ups were directly put over the image with Photoshop by hand and color adjusted. It is a lot of work but the result is worth it!

Related Links:
Galileo False Color Composite
Moonbeams and Elements

Tomorrow's LPOD: Nodding Moon

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