It was silly really.
It was just a crater.
The Moon is, after all, covered in them; they are difficult to miss.
But then there was that time when you saw lunar craters with your own eyes for the first time. At the very least it elicits a silent wow.
I was 8. My new binoculars mounted on a tripod that doubled as a machine gun in the day. I think everything I looked at excited me silly but the Moon was special.
I had seen it before, it wasn’t new.
Then I really looked. In some sense I have never stopped.
So almost three decades later I am sitting with the telescope I so dearly wanted when I was small, another sketch pad in one hand, a distant descendant of my first HB in the other and I am looking at the surface of the moon.
And I am gripped by childlike wonder and glee. Mind racing, heart doing that little excited boy dance. I can see something new, something I have never seen. I rush for my 27-year-old moon map and pour over it as I did when I was at primary school.
I pull books off my shelf and search.
It must be. I think I have seen, lurking in the shadow of libration, a crater that has only been known since it was first recorded in 1952 and originally called ‘Caramuel’. It is big at 123 miles across and usually sits out of view beyond the Moon’s western limb. The Moon’s orbit is not circular but slightly elliptical and because it is tidally locked an effect called ‘libration‘ allows us to see a little around each side. If we are lucky, the conditions are right and we look at just the right time we can see some of the moon’s hidden craters.
Last night it happened. Amazed, smiling and probably driving my wife to distraction I sat and watched the sunrise over Crater Einstein and sketched a lunar feature I had almost forgotten about and written off.
Last night I was 8 years old again!