Virtual Moon Atlas Expert 2.0. [NOW v. 3.5 avail] - Use this URL to install a FREE software package that will allow you to have some of the most fun on the moon you can ever imagine, right from the comfort of your home.
Virtual Moon Atlas is a freeware software program that gives you some pretty impressive abilities to study the moon on your home PC. I've only found and loaded this fascinating program a few days ago, yet from the little time I've spent playing with the zoom and movement buttons, I'm thoroughly impressed. Taken with the fact that this program is a FREE download, I absolutely had to write this quick little article to let everyone know about it. Click on "read more" below for the address to download VMA for yourself.
Go to: http://www.astrosurf.com/avl and add this wonderful program to your own computer. I'm considering an attempt at finding some of the so-called "Lunar 100" as listed by Charles A. Wood in his April 2004 Sky & Telescope article about the list on pages 113 thru 120. If you're lucky enough to have this S&T issue in your collection, you'll be able to see the accompanying images of several numbered features.
As Wood writes, "The Lunar 100 list is an attempt to provide Moon lovers with something akin to what deep sky observers enjoy with the Messier catalog: a selection of telescopic sights to ignite interest and enhance understanding. Presented here is a selection of the Moon's 100 most interesting regions, craters, basins, mountains, rilles, and domes. I challenge observers to find and observe them all and, more important, to consider what each feature tells us about lunar and Earth history."
The Virtual Moon Atlas has complete coverage of the Moon, both the near side we're all relatively familiar with, AND the FAR side features which are reproduced with the help of some of the lunar spacecraft missions both manned and unmanned.
As I've said, there is an enormous amount of exploration awaiting me and anyone else who downloads this freeware program. I'd highly encourage every AOAS member who is able to take the time and load this onto your own home PC's. I just bet that you'll be as impressed as I am.