Look up at the waxing gibbous with a pair of binoculars or a small telescope on Saturday (July 9) and enjoy the surface light effect known as the “Golden Handle”.
This interesting lunar feature appears when “low-angled sunlight strikes the prominent Montes Jura mountain range” in the lunar northwest, writes geophysicist Chris Vaughan, an amateur astronomer with SkySafari Software who oversees Space.com’s night sky calendar.
To find the “Golden Handle” look to the northwest region of the moon where the terminator — the line that divides the light and dark sides of the moon — falls just west of the prominent plain Sinus Iridum plain, also known as Bay of Rainbows. From here you’ll be able to see the bright arc or “Golden Handle” of the Montes Jura mountain range flank Sinus Iridum to the north and west.
Related: The brightest planets in July’s night sky: How to see them (and when)
Though the “Golden Handle” is undoubtedly the star of the show, Sinus Iridum also makes for an interesting observation target. The 155-mile (249 kilometer) diameter impact crater was once flooded by the same basalt that filled the much larger Mare Imbrium to its east.
“Sinus Iridum is almost craterless,” writes Vaughan. “But hosts a set of northeast-oriented wrinkle ridges that are revealed at this phase.
Fancy taking a more in-depth moonlit tour of our rocky companion? Our ultimate guide to observing the moon will help you plan your next skywatching venture whether it be exploring the lunar seas, mountainous terrain, or the many craters that blanket the landscape. You can also see where astronauts, rovers and landers have ventured with our Apollo landing sites observing guide.
If you’re looking for a telescope or binoculars to observe the moon in more detail, our guides for the best binoculars deals and the best telescope deals now can help. Our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography can also help you prepare to capture the next skywatching sight on your own.
Editor’s Note: If you snap a photo of the Golden Handle and would like to share it with Space.com’s readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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