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Places On the Moon: Plato Crater

Plato Crater

Plato Crater Narrative

The latest terrain feature on the Moon that I have decided to focus on is the very large Plato Crater.  I took the above images using my point and shoot Canon PowerShot D30 looking through the scope of my Celestron NexStar Evolution 8 Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope.

Using the Moon feature on Google Earth I measured this crater as being a huge 91 kilometers wide.  To put that into perspective the state of Rhode Island could be dropped into this crater with room to spare.  Besides its size another interesting characteristic about this crater is that the floor of the crater is completely black. This is because a 2.6 kilometer deep lava has filled the crater.  This lava is what is obscuring the high peak that tends to rise in the center of craters on the Moon of this size.

The below side profile picture of Plato shows the edges of the crater:

Side View of Plato Crater

The edges towers about 6,900 feet over the floor of the crater.  To put this into perspective this is slightly less than the elevation gain from Colorado Springs to the summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado.  Now imagine an entire crater wall of that size; pretty amazing when you think about it.

Another final interesting characteristic about Plato Crater is that is has long been a source of controversy for amateur astronomers.  This is because observers have reported seeing mist or clouds forming in the crater before eventually fading away.  Other observers have reported quirky light displays in the crater.  It is believed these reports are caused by atmospheric disturbances not on the Moon, but instead on Earth because there is no atmosphere on the Moon.

Plato Crater is definitely an interesting terrain feature to observe in my telescope and will continue to be one I periodically observe from time-to-time.  Who knows maybe one day I will see the mysterious fog of Plato Crater as well!

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