lunar image of the month

march: yepun visits the moon

In August 2002 astronomers at the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) facility used their 8.2m Yepun telescope to take one of the sharpest images ever taken of the Moon from the Earth. Using state-of-the-art adaptive optics (where small electric motors make thousands of rapid, tiny changes to the shape of the mirror to cancel out atmospheric turbulence) they photographed an area inside the 56km wide crater Taruntius. The large crater in the top of the field is named Cameron and measures about 10 km across.

The area of the image corresponds to approximately 60km × 45km (it is foreshortened), so each pixel in this copy covers an area roughly 150 metres wide on the Moon. The VLT image represents what an astronaut with normal eyesight would see from 400km above the lunar surface.

Image: NASA.