Lunar terminator

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Oblique photo of the large lunar crater Keeler at the terminator (from Apollo 13)
The east side of Timocharis crater while at the terminator (from Apollo 15)

The Lunar terminator is the division between the illuminated and dark parts of the Earth's Moon.[1] It is the lunar equivalent of the division between night and day on the Earth's sphere, although the Moon's much lower rate of rotation[2] means it takes longer for it to pass across the surface.

Due to the angle at which sunlight strikes this portion of the moon, shadows cast by craters and other geological features are elongated, thereby making such features more apparent to the observer. This phenomenon is similar to the lengthening of shadows on Earth when the sun is low in the sky. For this reason, much lunar photographic study centers on the illuminated area near the lunar terminator, and the resulting shadows provide accurate descriptions of the terrain.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ List of basic lunar features
  2. ^ The lunar day cycle is 29.53 Earth days in length (see [1]), so the terminator moves across the lunar surface at 15.4 kilometers per hour.
  3. ^ Flintstone Stargazing website, accessed 17 August 2010

External links[edit]