I live near Melbourne Australia and was wondering about the polar orientation of the Moon.  Do we see the south Pole on the top from our location?  I get confused as most of the lunar maps show its orientation differently.  Some put South up.  When I look at the Moon, is North ‘up or down’?

For anyone living below the Earth’s Equator, the lunar north pole will be on the bottom half of the moon as you’re looking at it. It won’t necessarily be “down” form your perspective as that entirely is dependent upon your observing latitude here on Earth.  Perhaps the easiest way to determine the lunar north from the south poles is to locate the Tycho Crater, which is an exceptionally bright (high albedo) crater and ejecta blanket which is located in he lunar southern highlands toward the south pole.  So any time you see this bright crater, that is in the southern half of the Moon and a line drawn through the center of the Moon and this crater will get you fairly close to the Lunar South Pole (~10 degrees off).  Another way to orient yourself is to locate the darker regions of the lunar surface (the Mare) as *most* of this area is located in the northern hemisphere.  Happy observing!

Brad Bailey

NLSI Staff Scientist

March 10, 2009

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The last human visitor left the Moon in December 1972.

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