lunar image of the month

october: copernicus from hubble

The Hubble Space Telescope is well known for its fabulous images of deep space objects. By comparison with the 2.5 to 10.5 billion light year distances involved in the famous Hubble Deep Field image, this photograph is about as different as you can get. It was taken while calibrating the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph, and shows the 100km (60 mile) wide lunar crater Copernicus.

At the distance of the Moon, Hubble can resolve features down to 85 metres (280 feet) across, and would need to take 130 pictures to cover the entire disc of the Moon.

The picture was taken near full moon, so there is very little shadow, but it is still possible to see where the steep walls have slumped into a series of concentric terraces.

Image: John Caldwell (York University, Ontario), Alex Storrs (STScI), NASA.