Physics Photo of the Week

October 14, 2011

Harvest Moon
Folklore calls the full Moon in September the "Harvest Moon" presumably because farmers are often harvesting crops into the early evening when the full Moon rises.  The clear skies, especially during harvesting weather, gives more of a chance that the Moon will be visible.

The Harvest Moon was photographed on the night of Full Moon last month (September 12, 2011) using the ordinary lens for the camera (55 mm focal length).  Later that evening, Astronomy students: Josh Reiss, Andrew Dutcher, and Sarah Elliott used the Questar telescope to make the Full Moon
photo below where details of the mare as well as crater rays can be seen. 

Notice that the "face" of the "Man in the Moon" from the top image is not noticeable in the telescopic image due to the enhanced details.  However the "face" features can be discerned to consist of the dark areas called maria - Latin for "seas".  The Maria were formed by cataclysmic collisions earlier in the Moon's history.  The gigantic impacts allowed more massive basalt-rich magma to reach the surface of the Moon.

The Questar telescope used for the telescope photo was donated to the Warren Wilson College Physics Department by Ralph Brown of Chattanooga, TN.  We are  especially grateful for this important gift.

There will be no Physics Photo of the Week next week due to fall break.  The next photo will be published on October 28, 2011.
  Look for an animation!

Physics Photo of the Week is published weekly during the academic year on Fridays by the Warren Wilson College Physics Department.  These photos feature interesting phenomena in the world around us.  Students, faculty, and others are invited to submit digital (or film) photographs for publication and explanation.  Atmospheric phenomena are especially welcome.  Please send any photos to 

All photos and discussions are copyright by Donald Collins or by the person credited for the photo and/or discussion.  These photos and discussions may be used for private individual use or educational use.  Any commercial use without written permission of the photoprovider is forbidden.

Click here to see the Physics Photo of the Week Archive.

Observers are invited to submit digital photos to: