Southern Hemisphere Views of the Moon

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My daughter has a contact In Australia who posed this question. Can anyone answer?

Begin forwarded message:
From: Ken Rolph <>
Date: July 9, 2009 10:25:13 PM EDT
To: Jane Lebak <>
Subject: seas of the moon


The clouds parted long enough for me to get a look at the moon when it was rising last night. It was about 30 degrees up when I noted the positions.

There are stories in all cultures of creatures in the moon, man, hare or otherwise. These are interpretations from the positions of the darker areas (maria or seas) versus the lighter areas. This is where my sense of upsidedownness comes from. It struck me when viewing an episode of the Inspector Linley Mysteries. They were in a small English village were old pagan customs were still in operation. There were regular full screen shots of a shining full moon. It didn't look right to me, so I went outside and looked up to check. That's when I first understood it was different. It probably looks different at different latitudes. I was mainly interested to see what it might look like at a northern latitude of rough similarity to mine.

The main feature is a dark kidney shaped area which occupies a large part of the moon's surface. This covers the Mare Nubium, Mare Humorum, Mare Imbrium, Mare Serentatis. When I look at the moon rising, this kidney shaped area is along the bottom of the moon's face. About mid left the Mare Tranquilitatis shades upwards into two ear-like stripes. These are the Mare Nectaris (lower) and Mare Fecunditatis (along the edge from about 9 to 12 on the clock face). About 10 or 11 o'clock is the small dark lump of the Mare Crisium. I hope I've typed all those correctly.

How does that match with what you see? The moon map in my Readers Digest Atlas has everything right upside down, but doesn't say from what latitude this vision is taken.

The moon does not travel directly overhead at our latitudes. When you face where the moon rises, it travels over one shoulder. For me this is the left shoulder, the same way that the sun travels. When the moon is at its highest point and I look at it I am facing north. How is it for you?

Ken Rolph
Blacktown Australia


Yes the Moon is perceived as upside down in the South Temperate Zone vs the North Temperate Zone. The perception switches frequently for observers near the Equator.
Far South observers see about 1% additional area near the South Pole of the Moon, but very rarely.
Far North observers see a bit more of the Moon's Arctic region = area near the North pole, very rarely. I'm guessing 1%. 3% may be closer, but 1/10% is more likely.
Only experienced observers of the polar areas of the moon are likely to notice any difference. The Moon's polar regions are difficult to observe because shadows from Earth shine and sunshine are always long. This is because the Moon's orbit is only tilted about 5 degrees from Earth's orbit, and both orbits are significantly elliptical.
Liberation adds area to the observable non-polar regions, but has little effect on the polar regions of the Moon. Neil


Funny, I was thinking something along these lines just today.

I was thinking that had you lived your whole life on the northern hemisphere and become familiar how the sky operates and turns there, would you have any difficulties with orientation if you travelled to the southen hemisphere? Meaning, would you have any difficulties telling where the south or north is based on simply having a look at the sky?
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