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On This Day

On This Day… The Dark Side Of The Moon

Written by: George Chittenden : 08 Jun 2019

It was on this day, 7th Oct, back in 1959 when the first ever pictures were taken of the far side of the moon allowing humans to see it for the very first time. The pictures were taken by a camera using 35mm film on the Soviet satellite, Lunik 3, and were transmitted by radio to the Earth, 300,000 miles away.

The far-side of the moon

The far-side of the moon

The images were taken at 3.30 GMT, when the satellite was between the Sun and the Moon, so that about 70% of the far side was lit by the Sun. The mission’s success was seen as a major propaganda coup by the Soviet Union. They discovered, amongst other landmarks, a mountain range near the equator that they named the Sovietsky Mountains.

Lunik 3

Lunik 3

They also named several other landmarks, such as the Sea of Moscow. So, what exactly is a sea on the moon. Well in astronomical terms seas are lunar mares. They are those large dark marks, which early astronomers mistook for actual seas. They are actually basaltic plains formed by ancient volcanic eruptions.

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