Autolycus (crater)

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Autolycus crater 4110 h1.jpg
Coordinates30°42′N 1°30′E / 30.7°N 1.5°E / 30.7; 1.5Coordinates: 30°42′N 1°30′E / 30.7°N 1.5°E / 30.7; 1.5
Diameter39 km
Depth3.4 km
Colongitude358° at sunrise
Autolycus (bottom) and Aristillus (top) from Apollo 15 Mapping camera.
Oblique view of Autolycus from Apollo 15 Panoramic camera.

Autolycus is a lunar impact crater that is located in the southeast part of Mare Imbrium. West of the formation is Archimedes, a formation more than double the size of Autolycus. Just to the north is Aristillus, and the outer ramparts of these two craters overlap in the intermediate stretch of the lunar mare. Further southeast are Rimae and Promontorium Fresnel and the smaller crater Santos-Dumont.

From that location, the Earth appears at around 60 degrees from the horizon facing south. Also the sun rises during the third quarter of Earthshine and the sun sets during its first quarter.


The rim of Autolycus is somewhat irregular, although generally circular overall. It has a small outer rampart and an irregular interior with no central peak. It possesses a light ray system that extends for a distance of over 400 kilometers. Due to its rays, Autolycus is mapped as part of the Copernican System.[1] Some of the ray material appears to overlay the flooded floor of Archimedes, and thus Autolycus is older than Archimedes. Aristillus (to the north), however, has rays that overlay both Autolycus and Archimedes, and thus it is the youngest of the three craters.

The first man-made impact upon the Moon was when the Luna 2 probe crash-landed just to the west-southwest of the crater rim on September 13, 1959,[2] according to the claim of one Hungarian astronomer who claimed to see an explosion of dust.


The crater is named after the ancient Greek Autolycus of Pitane. It was given its name by Giovanni Riccioli, whose 1651 nomenclature system has become standardized.[3][4] It was first known as "Autolicus", then took its current form, "Autolycus". Earlier lunar cartographers had given the feature different names. Michael van Langren's 1645 map called it "Reithae",[3][5] while Johannes Hevelius called it "Montuniates" in 1647.[3][6]

Satellite craters[edit]

Detail map of Mare Imbrium's features. Autolycus is the feature marked "F".

By convention these features are identified on lunar maps by placing the letter on the side of the crater midpoint that is closest to Autolycus.

Autolycus Latitude Longitude Diameter
A 30.9° N 2.2° E 4 km
K 31.2° N 5.4° E 3 km


  1. ^ The geologic history of the Moon, 1987, Wilhelms, Don E.; with sections by McCauley, John F.; Trask, Newell J. USGS Professional Paper: 1348. Plate 11: Copernican System (online)
  2. ^ Wilhelms, Don (1987). "1. General Features" (PDF). Geologic History of the Moon. US Geological Survey Professional Paper 1348. United States Geological Survey. p. 12. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 7, 2006. Retrieved 2017-02-22.
  3. ^ a b c Ewen A. Whitaker, Mapping and Naming the Moon (Cambridge University Press, 1999).
  4. ^ Riccioli map of the Moon (1651)
  5. ^ Langrenus map of the Moon (1645)
  6. ^ Hevelius map of the Moon (1647)