Moon Watch -- Observing Cassini

My father was in his 80’s and in a hospital bed waiting patiently for his inevitable death. He noticed that I was watching him as he quietly surveyed his hand, which he had been doing for several minutes. I considered my father’s hands lovingly, looking at the deep wrinkles.

“I sometimes do not recognize this old hand,” my father finally said, “and I wonder what happened to the smooth skin of my youth.”

Cassini is an aging area that hints at a more magnificent youth, but which has aged with grace and character.

Cassini is found on the edges of Mare Imbrium, the Sea of Rains, or the Sea of Showers, within a little area that calls to my mind the sub-continent of India, but which is known as Palus Nebularum. If one follows Plato and then moves along the Montes Alpes and beyond its end, the Promontorium Deville, there the observer will find Cassini.

The walls of Cassini itself are clearly seen, but at this lunation they seem to be ancient to the point of nearing extinction. The walls give the impression they what is seen is a remnant of what once was a more magnificent crater. The walls seem thin, and the floor of Cassini seems flooded with the same material that formed Mare Imbrium. Surrounding these thin walls are mountains and a roughness that must have once been part of a more youthful and dynamic Cassini Crater. Rather than having a central peak, as neighboring Aristillus possesses, or having a simple and flat flooring as does neighboring Archimedes, Cassini’s floor has an interesting collection of craters and craterlets.

It is the presence of newer craters that makes Cassini an interesting area to observe. These would have been formed after Cassini, and the intrusion of material from the formation of Mare Imbrium.

Cassini B is on the southwest edge, inside the crater. Cassini A is closer to the center, but a bit on the northeast. Cassini A seems a bit rough around the edges, and not quite circular in shape. Just outside of the Cassini walls is Cassini M. Further in the distance the observer will see F, C and E, but these move not only away from Cassini, but also away from Mare Imbrium and into a more rugged area.

Like all things that age, dignity is threatened. At this lunation, the thinning walls of Cassini seem strongest at the east, seeming to form a sort of silly grin. With Cassini B and Cassini M being at just the right angles and distance, these three appear to form two eyes and a grin – a silly, undignified “happy face” that detracts from the greatness of this feature.

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