The First Port of Call
Long synonymous with amateur astronomers, the Moon has traditionally been the dominant focus for a large segment of the fraternity. This is not surprising, since at less than a quarter of a million miles away, it is the closest celestial object to Earth, despite the fact that modern science has relegated such a distance to seeming insignificance, virtually nothing in cosmic terms. It was certainly the stuff of movies and popular science fiction in general during the mid-twentieth century, culminating in that most dramatic of times when humans actually went there in person and walked on its surface.
After finally having provided such an astonishing realization of a long-held dream, all too soon the Moon found itself banished to the attics of popular interest! With nothing left to excite the imagination, the very success of the Apollo missions is largely why most amateurs set aside their traditional interest in the Moon. The sensational imagery from these missions, as well as those of all the orbiting spacecraft, made our old friend seem humdrum and too familiar for the amateur observer. From the beginning of the Space Age, the Moon has been mapped and analyzed in astounding detail (and from all angles).