Apollo

The first of the so-called 'J Series' missions, geared for maximum scientific gain, Apollo 15 took the first car to the Moon: the LRV or Lunar Roving Vehicle. The landing was made on July 30, 1971. At last, the astronauts could cover many miles on the lunar surface. Of all the Apollo landing sites, the Apollo 15 Hadley rille region is the most fascinating to inspect through an amateur telescope and the most infectious to webcam. Lying 200 kilometers southeast of the 80-kilometer crater Archimedes, the rille itself is clearly visible in good seeing, even though it is only half a kilometer wide. The meanderings of the rille, visited by astronauts Dave Scott and Jim Irwin, can be examined at high powers. Webcam images of the region with amateur telescopes can resolve details as small as 0.5 kilometers, much smaller than the journeys the astronauts went on in their LRV. To be able to resolve details from your back garden smaller than the astronauts rovings is quite something when you are sitting on the Earth some 380,000 kilometers away! The landing site is at 26.08° N, 3.65°E. The Lunar Module Falcon landed further from the lunar equator than any other Apollo mission and the backdrop of the surrounding hills was truly spectacular. Viewing this region a day or so after the first quarter phase, or a day or two before last quarter (if you like pre-dawn observing) will bring very rewarding views and, with a vivid imagination, you might believe that with a bit better resolution you might even glimpse the lunar module descent stage. If only! See Figure 10.7.

Figure 10.7. The Hadley Rille/Apollo 15 landing site imaged September 5, 2004, with a ToUcam Pro and 250-mm f/6.3 Newtonian at f/38. Image: M. Mobberley.

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