Glance up at the moon any night and you will see a glistening silver orb that has inspired poets, writers musicians and philosophers. But if you actually look at the moon, you will notice some lighter and darker patches. These patches of light and dark make distinct patterns and shapes and so we have the”man in the moon” and the “moon rabbit”.
The interesting thing about the patterns of light and dark is that they are caused by distinct geological processes. The darker areas are called Mare which is Latin for seas, because before the advent of the telescope, this is what astronomers thought they looked like. These dark areas are lava plains, most of which formed early on in the history of the moon. The lighter regions tend to be the lunar highlands. These areas were pushed up in the violent early history of the moon some billions of years ago when the moon was bombarded with rocks left over from the formation of our solar system.
Larger impacts created huge craters surrounded by pushed up hills and scattered ejecta from the impacts. The craters flooded with lava and so the lunar seas were formed. The moon had no atmosphere, no weather, wind, plate tectonics, running water or erosion and so all the craters left from the impacts are still visible today unless they were obliterated by a newer craters. All this fascinating pockmarked history is sitting there, waiting to be observed. All we have to do is turn a set of binoculars or a telescope on the moon to get started.