What is the Color of the Lunar Seas?

November 14, 2022

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Photographer: Mario Freitas    

Summary Author: Mario Freitas   

The above photo showing the waxing gibbous Moon was taken on a sunshiny afternoon near Curitiba, Brazil. Bright areas of the lunar crust correspond to highlands, while the darker ones are basaltic plains, named by early astronomers as “maria”, the Latin word for seas.

As we can see in the photo, in full daylight the basalt seas display a hue of blue that’s due to Earth’s atmosphere, being just a little brighter than the portion of the Moon that’s not illuminated by the Sun. Lunar highlands are bright enough to appear whitish on photos. This subtle contrast increases when the Moon is observed in a nighttime sky.

The annotated image below gives the names of some famous lunar craters and maria, among them the Sea of Tranquility, the first location on another world visited by human beings. Photo taken on May 15, 2016,

Photo details: Panasonic LUMIX FZ-70 camera; focal length 215 mm.

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Curitiba, Brazil Coordinates: -25.4372, -49.2700

Related Links:

Observing the Moon on the Same Day from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres