Virtual Moon Atlas

Quick user's guide 

 

The following examples will help you to well use the "Virtual Atlas of the Moon" and give you all informations needed for good settings. The versions compatible with the described actions are indicated:

How to well set the "Virtual Atlas of the moon"

How to view the Moon for a given date and hour to prepare an observing session

How to find an unknown lunar formation that you just discover the existence

How to use a "Goto" mount

How to study a known formation and know how and when to observe it

How to search a formation of the libration zone and its next observing date

How to look at a formation in its geological context

How to generate documents usable "in the field"

How to study the Moon Far Side

And now, have a dream...

Scientific surveys of the Moon

How to study a specific type of lunar formations

How to study the origin of lunar names


How to well set the "Virtual Atlas of the Moon"

 

A good setting of the "Virtual Atlas of the Moon" is necessary to better use all its features.

The authors have wished this software to be usable by the greatest number of people despite of the machine resources needed. This is why there are some settings to do.

Owners of the most powerful computers will access all the functions in great comfort. The speeder the microprocessor, the more graphic memory inside and better will be the resolution and shorter the computing time.

 

1) Your computer has a graphic section which is not Open GL compatible (Version "Light")

Your computer is build around a less than 300 MHz microprocessor, or your graphic section is less than 16 Mo video RAM , or this one doesn't support Open GL library ? Unfortunately, you will not be able to use 3D display. You must choose the "Light" version.

You will be able to use only 2D maps including nevertheless the included geological 2D map.

After launching the software, click on the "Configuration" menu. Click on the "General thumbnail". To make easier all the calculations, we advise you to choose the "Geocentric position" option which is less greedy for smaller configurations.

Then, choose the language. It's the language of the software and of the database and French and English are provided in the basic package. In the other languages versions produced by others voluntary colleagues, it's often only the software interface. Some databases have been translated too in some languages.

Then click on the "Display" thumbnail. Don't click in the "Use Open GL display". But you can fill the "Show the phase" and "Geological map" boxes.

You must after test the textures resolution beginning with " Quart". As you can see, this texture is very rough and it shows only what is visible in a 10x binoculars. Contrarily, the "Full" resolution shows you what is visible in a 60 mm (2,5 ") instrument.

Once the texture chosen, you can also apply your favorite color to the point showing the formation on the map, the name of the selected formation and the color of the name of the neighborhood or principal formations. You can also decide if you want to display them if you fill or unfill the "Show label" or "Show marks" boxes.

If you fill the "Mark the point of the maximum libration", a well visible point will be displayed around the lunar disk to show you, despite of the 2D display, where the libration will be maximum for the date and hour that you will select soon.

The "Label size" cursor allows you to magnify or reduce the names formations police size on the displayed maps or when printing them. The "Label density" cursor allows you to increase or reduce the number of names formations displayed at the same time on the map.

Now, click on the "Images" thumbnail. You can choose the number of displayed together images windows with the upper tuning. Downside, you will find the images directories list. The downloadable pictures library allows you to have several directories, one for LOPAM pictures, one for Apollo's, one for Clementine's, one for those of other probes. And you can after add one for your own pictures and others as you want.

Now click on the "Eyepieces" thumbnail. Type in your eyepieces list. Fill the "Field" column and help yourself with the "Compute" button above. We think it's a good option to sort your eyepieces and combinations from the less to the more powerful. If you click on the right columns, you can activate (Green) or deactivate (Red) the "left-right" (<->) inversion and the "up-down" (N/S) inversion. So, if you own a Newtonian and a refractor, for example, you can program the exact views that each of these instruments will gives you.

After that, click on the "Printing" thumbnail. First, define the documents margin. We advise you to choose 10 mm, so that all the documents according to a single formation could be printed on a single page. The "Description text width" allows you to choose database data printing police size. Here, we advise you to try several sizes and choose the best.

Fill the boxes of the documents you want to print. The three documents can be printed on the same page if you use a sufficiently small police size. We advise you to fill the "White background" box to reduce printing ink quantity when printing maps.

Now click on the "Settings" thumbnail to the right. Slide the "Penumbra" cursor to choose the transparency degree of the night side. You can replace the darkening of the night side by lines when clicking the box.

Click on the "Tools" thumbnail on the right. Fill the "South" box if you use a Newtonian so that the map display will be as you can see the Moon in your telescope. Or fill the "North" and the "Mirror" boxes if you use a refractor or a Maksutov or a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope.

Validate your choices clicking on the "OK" button. You can now enjoy all the power of the Virtual Moon Atlas "Light" version.

 

2) Your computer has a graphic section compatible with Open GL ("Basic" and "Expert" versions)

Your computer is build around a more than 300 MHz microprocessor, or your graphic section is 16 Mo video RAM or more, or this one support Open GL library ? Then, you will be able to use 3D display and the librations search will be possible for you when using the "Basic" version and the Far Side viewing when using the "Expert" version. .

After launching the software, click on the "Configuration" menu. Click on the "General thumbnail". Because of the greater power of your computer, you can enter your observing site coordinates and the software will also compute the diurnal libration.

Then, choose the language. It's the language of the software and of the database and French and English are provided in the basic package. In the other languages versions produced by others voluntary colleagues, it's often only the software interface. Some databases have been translated too in some languages.

Then click on the "Display" thumbnail. You must after test the textures resolution beginning with " Quart". As you can see, this texture is very rough and it shows only what is visible in a 10x binoculars. Contrarily, the "Full" resolution texture shows you what is visible in a 150 mm (6") instrument with high magnification.

Once the texture chosen, you can also apply your favorite color to the point showing the formation on the map, the name of the selected formation and the color of the name of the neighborhood or principal formations. You can also decide if you want to display them if you fill or unfill the "Show label" or "Show marks" boxes.

If you fill the "Mark the point of the maximum libration", a well visible arrow will be displayed around the lunar disk to show you, where the libration will be maximum for the date and hour that you will select soon. You will note that the size of this arrow is proportional to libration intensity.

The "Label size" cursor allows you to magnify or reduce the names formations police size on the displayed maps or when printing them. The "Label density" cursor allows you to increase or reduce the number of names formations displayed at the same time on the map.

Now, click on the "Images" thumbnail. You can choose the number of displayed together images windows with the upper tuning. Downside, you will find the images directories list. The downloadable pictures library allows you to have several directories, one for LOPAM pictures, one for Apollo's, one for Clementine's, one for those of other probes. And you can after add one for your own pictures and others as you want.

Now click on the "Eyepieces" thumbnail. Type in your eyepieces list. Fill the "Field" column and help yourself with the "Compute" button above. We think it's a good option to sort your eyepieces and combinations from the less to the more powerful. If you click on the right columns, you can activate (Green) or deactivate (Red) the "left-right" (<->) inversion and the "up-down" (N/S) inversion. So, if you own a Newtonian and a refractor, for example, you can program the exact views that each of these instruments will gives you.

After that, click on the "Printing" thumbnail. First, define the documents margin. We advise you to choose 10 mm, so that all the documents according to a single formation could be printed on a single page. The "Description text width" allows you to choose database data printing police size. Here, we advise you to try several sizes and choose the best.

Fill the boxes of the documents you want to print. The three documents can be printed on the same page if you have chosen a sufficiently small police size. We advise you to fill the "White background" box to reduce printing ink quantity when printing maps.

Validate your choices clicking on the "OK" button. You can now enjoy all the power of the Virtual Moon Atlas

Once the software started after settings, it appears with the librated or complete globe. Look how it works when you zoom or when you move it. Is it jerky ? If yes, settings must be upgraded.

Click on the "Settings" thumbnail. This one presents an interesting tool for final settings. In the bottom of the frame, you see a frame per second (fps) counter. The higher this number, the less jerky the display.

Slide the "penumbra" cursor to choose the night side transparency. But you must know that the display is speeder when it' completely dark.

Slide the "Diffuse" cursor to the left.

Slide the "Direct" cursor to the left. It sets the day side lighting.

But the most influent cursor on display speed is the "Resolution" cursor. This cursor sets the 3D sphere precision on which is applied the surface texture. If it's completely on the left, the "sphere" presents big flat surfaces.

Slides this cursor to the left. You increase then flat surfaces number and precision becomes better and better. But this is computer power consuming.

You have to set these cursors to find an acceptable compromise between aspect, resolution and fluidity. We recommend you not to go under 5 fps.

If you know well Open GL, click on the dedicated button to obtain important informations that can help you for your setup.

Click on the "Tools" thumbnail on the right. Fill the "South" box if you use a Newtonian so that the map display will be as you can see the Moon in your telescope. Or fill the "North" and the "Mirror" boxes if you use a refractor or a Maksutov or a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope.

Validate your choices clicking on the "OK" button. You can now enjoy all the power of the Virtual Moon Atlas versions "Basic" or "Expert".

 


How to view the Moon for a given date and hour
to prepare an observing session

You wish to know the aspect of the Moon for a next day to prepare your observing session, maybe for two different reasons :

- You would like to observe "Deep Sky" objects and Moon presence is not wishable.

- You would like to observe the Moon and know visible formations on the terminator.

Two possibilities for you :

1) Your computer has a graphic section which is not Open GL compatible (Version "Light")

Once the software started and displayed, click on the "Ephemeris" thumbnail.

- If it's an immediate observing session, click on the "Now" button and the software will synchronize on the "System" date and hour of your operating system.

- If it's for a future observing session, set date and hour with the upper arrowed boxes and click on "OK" button;

If the "Show the phase" box have been filed previously, a lines cover is applied to the map. But you can also know what formations are visible and the phase. Please, note first that the right window show some interesting data :

  • Hours of rise, meridian transit and set of the moon

  • Days of lunation, phase and lightened disk percentage

Then, click on "Terminator" thumbnail

In the right window, you can see now a list of formations visible on the terminator.

You can limit this list with your interest level using the upper scrolling list. You can also reduce this list to the formations only easily observable in your instrument, choosing the nearer of yours in the "Instruments" scrolling list.

You can sort this list according to name or latitude formation activating the corresponding box.

Click now on the list first formation and its position is displayed on the lunar disk. Scrolling down in the list with arrowed keys will permit you to see the position of other formations and have a good idea of terminator and prepare your observing session.

 

2) Your computer has a graphic section compatible with Open GL and you choose to use it (Versions "Basic" and "Light".

Once the software started and displayed, click on the "Ephemeris" thumbnail.

- If it's an immediate observing session, click on the "Now" button and the software will synchronize on the "System" date and hour of your operating system.

- If it's for a future observing session, set date and hour with the upper arrowed boxes and click on "OK" button.

The lunar globe shows you now phase and librations for chosen date and hour.

Clicking on the "Ephemeris" thumbnail, you can see in the right window all the needed data.

Then, click on "Terminator" thumbnail

In the right window, you can see now a list of formations visible on the terminator.

You can limit this list with your interest level using the upper scrolling list. You can also reduce this list to the formations only easily observable in your instrument, choosing the nearer of yours in the "Instruments" scrolling list.

You can sort this list according to name or latitude formation activating the corresponding box.

Click now on the list first formation and its position is displayed on the lunar disk. Scrolling down in the list with arrowed keys will permit you to see the position of other formations and have a good idea of termiator and prepare your observing session.


How to find an unknown lunar formation
that you just discover the existence
(All versions)

 

You have just discover in a magazine or in a book about the Moon, the existence of an interesting lunar formation you just don't know the existence before. The Virtual Atlas of the Moon will indicate you its existence.

This example is applicable to all computers, with 2D or 3D display.

Start the software. We will choose for our example "Mons Rümker" that your new information has just revealed you the existence.

Click on the "Position" thumbnail. In the input zone of the upper scrolling list, type with upper case letter and without any accent or " ¨ " :

MONS RUMKER

The, click on the "Search" button. In a few seconds, you can see Mons Rümker position indicated on North - West part of the lunar 2D disk or 3D globe.

Please, also note that this powerful search function is very powerful because you can use "jokers : *

So; if you typed

MONS*

You can see the positions of all formations whose official name begins with "MONS". You have just to click on the "Next" button to see them one after the other.

 


How to find an unknown lunar formation
that you just discover the existence
(Basic or Expert version with a "Goto" mount)

You have just discover in a magazine or in a book about the Moon, the existence of an interesting lunar formation you just don't know the existence before. If you own a computerized "Goto" mount which accepts the ASCOM protocol, the Virtual Atlas of the Moon will track it directly on the Moon.

First of all be sure that you have installed the good ASCOM drivers on your computer. If not, go on the Internet to the site
http://ascom-standards.org/ to download them. Install them.

Connect your mount to your computer

Start your computer and the "Basic" or "Expert" version of the software.

First initialize tour telescope as usually, then use the pad or a planetarium software to point the Moon.

Click on the "See the menu" button and launch the connection.

Begin centering a well known formation in the eyepiece field and select it on the map. Push the "Sync selection" button for initializing telescope coordinates on this position.

It's also possible to make this operation on a star near the Moon with the planetarium program.

After, check the box "Follow position" so that the map displays always the telescope position.

If your telescope can do automatic pointing, you can now click on a formation on the map, or choose it with the "Search" function of the "Information" thumbnail and then click on the "Goto selection" button

 


How to study a known formation
and know how and when observe it
(All versions)

 

You would like to observe a particularly interesting formation, or you have just discover in a magazine or a book about Moon, a special interest for this formation. The Virtual Atlas of the Moon will indicate you all the informations it contains and when you can observe it well.

This example is applicable to all computers, with 2D or 3D display.

Start the software. We will choose for our example the "Alphonsus" crater that your new information has just revealed you an interesting detail.

As you now well where is Alphonsus, just slide the upper zoom cursor to half its way. You can also use your mouse wheel if you own one. The 2D map or 3D lunar globe magnifies.

Click on the map or globe with left button, stay clicked and move the mouse to move simultaneously the map, as grabbing it, to center Alphonsus. It's is now visible and you click in its center. Its name is displayed confirming you that you were right. If you made a mistake, you have just to search it as described above.

When you identify Alphonsus, use the "Center" button. Then, map shows you that it's a not too old crater with a central peak and pretty high walls.

You can read all the detailed informations about it in the right window. You will find here informations about the origin of its name, on its position, its dimensions, a complete description and observing advices.

Note also the "Profile" frame above the right window that gives a good idea of a cut of this crater.

For a well understanding of the description, click on the "Picture" button. Remarkably detailed pictures extracted from the VMA pictures library. Click on the one you want to display and it appears in an independent window.

You can adjust the picture size and definition using "Zoom +" and "Zoom -" buttons of its window. Lifters are used when it's too big to fit in the main window.

The picture shows you well the black dots, the central peak and the rills indicated in the description and even more if you consider all the craterlet visible on it. And some of the pictures of Ranger 9 show you 50 m details !


How to search a formation of the libration zone
and its next observing date

(Version "Basic" and "Expert")

Discover together now the last face of the power of the "Virtual Atlas of the Moon". Unfortunately, it's not available to owners of computers without support of Open GL.

The problem is to search a formation located in the librations zone which only periodically visible. We will use the famous "MARE ORIENTALE" ... which is on the East side of the visible face , but now on the West part since the International Astronomical Union has changed the orientation of lunar maps.

Start the program. Click on the "Position" thumbnail. In the input zone of the upper scrolling list, type with upper case letter and without any accent or " ¨ " :

*ORIENTAL*

The, click on the "Search" button. In a few seconds, you can see Mare Orientale position indicated on South - West part of the lunar 3D globe. Maybe it's really visible according to the date taken by the software

Slide the zoom cursor in its middle. The 3D lunar globe becomes bigger.

Click on the globe with left button, stay clicked and move the mouse to move simultaneously the map, as grabbing it, to center Mare Orientale.

You can read all the detailed informations about it in the right window. You will find here informations about the origin of its name, its position, its dimensions, a complete description and observing advices.

For a well understanding of the description, click on the "Picture" button. A remarkably detailed picture extracted from "Digital Lunar Orbiter Photographic Atlas of the Moon" published by Jeff Gillis of"Lunar and Planetary Institute" shows you an amount of details above all what is visible in the best terrestrial instruments.

You can adjust the picture size and definition using "Zoom +" and "Zoom -" buttons of its window. Lifters are used when it's too big to fit in the main window.

This picture shows you Mare Orientale in a way impossible to observe from Earth, because as the major part of the photos of LOPAM, it has been taken vertically.

Close now the picture window with a click on its "Close" button to come back to the globe.

Click on the "Configuration" menu, than on the "Display" thumbnail and activate "Open GL display", "Phase" and "Libration" boxes if it's not yet done.

Click on the "Ephemeris" thumbnail and with the ">>" button, go in the future to a one day per click rate.

You will then witness the slow move of the lunar globe and the terminator path. Note the arrow showing you the place where the libration is maximum and how its size varies with the libration intensity.

Observe as Mare Orientale is from times to times more visible. A good observing period will be when the position is good and on a Full Moon day.

With a sufficient clicks number, you will find a such day in the future. it will be indicated in the date boxes above the video-recorder buttons. Look at the hour to confirm it's not during the day. Now, you have just to wish that you will be free on this night and that meteorology will be favorable !


How to look at a formation in its geological context
(Version "Light" only)

 

With the Virtual Atlas of the Moon, you can also obtain informations on the geological history of the formations and their surroundings.

Go to the "Configuration" menu. Select the "Display" thumbnail . Unfill the "Use Open GL display" box if necessary. Fill the box "Geological map". We advise you to unfill the "Show the phase" box. Then click on the "OK" button. The geological map of the Moon appears with zoom X1.

Click on the "Information" thumbnail. In the typing field of the search scrolling list, enter the name of the formation you are looking for. Then click on the "Find" button.

The searched formation is shown on the map. Move the "Zoom" cursor to magnify the map as you want and click on the "Center" button to center the selected formation in the map window.

Put the cursor on the map and right click the mouse. In the context menu, select "Geological legend" so that a window with the colors caption appears to know the birth period of the formations.

 


How to generate documents usable "in the field"
(All versions)

Since the 1.5 version, the Virtual Atlas of the Moon allows you to generate printed documents usable "in the field". How to proceed ?

Open the "Configuration" menu. Click on the "Printing" thumbnail. You can choose the width margins of the printed documents, information page police size and what documents to print.

The two most important are the map to find a formation and the information page of this formation. Fill the two corresponding boxes. The two documents will be printed on the same page if you have choosen a sufficiently small police.

Click on the "Display" thumbnail of the "Configuration" Menu. Move the "Label size" to the right to increase the printed names size and make them more readable. You will certainly have several tests to do befor finding a good compromise..

We advise you to choose black or white colors for marks ans labels if you own a black and white printer as laser ones.

Then, click on the "Tools" thumbnail. Fill the box "Mirror" to obtain a lunar map similar to what you will see in a refractor or in a Schmidt - Cassegrain, Cassegrain or Maksutov telescope.

But, if you own a Newtonian telescope, unfill the box "Mirror" and fill the box "South up".

Then choose the magnifying factor. With "Zoom" cursor at left, the map shows the whole Moon as it's visible with a X100 magnification, filling nearly all the field of a classical eyepiece.

Right click on the mouse or use the "Zoom" cursor to choose the zoom factor to X 2 that corresponds to a X 200 magnification or X 4 which is for a magnification of about X 400.

Then, open the "File" menu. Setup your printer selecting "Print Setup". Choose your printer in the upper scrolling list and the paper size. We recommend you to choose "Portrait" format. The click on the "OK" button to validate your choices.

Re-open the "File" menu and choose "Print" selection to send to your printer the selected documents.

After printing, you obtain a document giving you all what you need to find a formation and understand its own history.

 


How to study the Far Side
(Version "Expert" only)

With the "Expert" version, you can view the Moon Far Side.

For that, press the "Full Globe" button in the upper bar.

In this "Globe" mode, mouse and lifters role change.

Mouse is for turning the globe around its polar axis and lifters are for area centering.

You can turn the globe and go viewing the Far Side relief. In, in the "General" thumbnail of the "configuration" menu, you have filled the "Far Side named formations" box, names of formations will be indicated as on the visible face and you will have access to their informations in the "Informations" thumbnail.


And now, have a dream
(Version "Expert" only)

 

With the "Expert" version, you can have a good idea of what was the show enjoyed by the Apollos missions astronauts when orbiting around the Moon.

Open the "Display" thumbnail of the "Configuration" menu. Unfill the "Show label", "Show mark" and "Mark the point of maximum libration" boxes for no landscape obstruction. But if you want to know the viewed formations, don't make that.

Open the "Textures" thumbnail to choose the "Airbrush" or the "Photographic texture.

After, you have just to press the "Full Globe" button in the upper bar.

In this "Globe" mode, mouse and lifters role change.

Mouse is for turning the globe around its polar axis and lifters are for area centering.

Click on the "Tools" thumbnail at right and click on the "East" or "West" buttons to rotate the globe as you want. Best is with the equator up.

Right click on the map and select your most powerful eyepiece. The round Hole simulate the "window" of your spaceship. Use the lifters to center the lunar limb or use the "West view", "Center" or "East view" button of the "Satellite" frame to choose your area.

Select the satellite speed in the scrolling list and press on the "<" or ">" button to choose the move direction. The "II" button is for stopping the move for displaying the formations names.

And now, have a dream...


VHow to see a formation in a scientific context ("Pro" version)

You can also observe the repartition of different elements on the Moon surface or look at topographical data on the full lunar globe with the "Pro" version.

Go to the "Configuration" menu. Select the "Overlays" thumbnail. Fill the "Show overlay" box and choose the scientific overlay in the scrolling list below. Set the transparency with the cursor. Click on the "OK" button. We think it's better to remove the phase and libration effects by clicking on the "Phase" and "Libration" buttons. You can also access the Far side if you press the "Full globe" button.

If you press the "2nd window" button, you create a new "Pro" version window above the first and you can set its display with another scientific overlay so that you can compare the same area with two parameters.

 


How to study a specific type of lunar formations

With "DATLUN" (c), the VMA databases manager, you can select a specific type of lunar formations that you wish to localize and study.

Patrick Chevalley has choose to build DATLUN on SQL language so that it will be possible to generate elaborated requests.

And more, the informations entered in the databases by Christian Legrand are always "formated" permitting precise requests.

These two factors conjunction allows you to select, for example lists of formations such as :

- Rills over 4 miles wide visible 2 days after First Quarter.
- Craters with central peaks and a diameter between 20 et 30 km (Diameters zone where the peaks appear)
- Craters with flat floor filled with somber lava visible in a 50 mm diameter instrument.
- Formations appearing on Antonin Rükl "Atlas of the Moon" chart 33 or on page 58 of Hatfield Atlas.
- Formations appearing on LOPAM IV-108-H2 picture around Alphonsus
- Formations created during Eratosthenian period
- etc....

After that, the "Mark selection on map" will start VMA with all the selected formations clearly localized.

We propose you to read the illustrated "DATLUN" manual for more informations.


How to study the origin of lunar names

With "DATLUN" (c), the VMA databases manager, you can also study the origin of lunar names.

Patrick Chevalley has chosen to build DATLUN on SQL language so that it will be possible to generate elaborated requests.

And more, the informations entered in the databases by Christian Legrand are always "formated" permitting precise requests.

These two factors conjunction allows you to select, for example lists of formations with characters names presenting the same features such as :

- Characters living during the 18th century.
- English mathematicians or physicists (Or from any other country).
- Characters who have study the light.
- Craters whose character's name has been applied by Schmidt.
- Characters who are born in a specific town.
- Formations present on Langrenus map.
- etc...

It's the first time that a such tool is proposed for lunar observers.