10 of history's most beautiful moon maps – Man has been making images of the moon for millennia, but the complicated craft of lunar cartography really took off 400 years ago, thanks to the invention of a little something called the telescope. Here are some of the most beautiful moon maps made since then.
By Allyssia Alleyne, for CNN
Pictured: A map showing the moon's gravity, created by NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission in 2012.
Galileo Galilei, 1610 – Galileo Galilei, 1610
Galileo Galilei, who has been called the "father of modern science," was the first to publish drawings of the moon as seen through a telescope. These wash drawings, published in his treatise Sidereus Nuncius (Sidereal Messenger), show the surface of the moon during its different phases.
At the time, it was both groundbreaking and controversial for Galileo to depict the moon as mountainous and irregular. In doing so, he directly challenged (and disproved) Aristotle's widely believed theory that the moon -- and all other celestial bodies -- were perfectly smooth and spherical.
Giovanni Battista Riccioli, 1651 – Giovanni Battista Riccioli, 1651
While Jesuit astronomer Giovanni Battista Riccioli didn't draw the map himself (that was his student and collaborator Francesco Maria Grimaldi), he did develop its complex nomenclature, much of which is still used today.
Most features are named after astronomers, scientists and philosophers associated with the moon. The names are organized chronologically, from north to south, and grouped according to nationality and interest to other categories. Riccioli was also the first to refer to the deep depressions on the moon's surface as maria, or seas -- such as the Mare Tranquillitatis -- Sea of Tranquility.
Wilhelm Beer and Johann Heinrich von Mädler, 1876 – Wilhelm Beer and Johann Heinrich von Mädler, 1834-36
This exceptionally detailed map was produced by German astronomers Wilhelm Beer and Johann Heinrich von Mädler, and was released in quadrants between 1834 and 1836. Their Mappa Selenographica -- shown here as a closeup from Stieler's Hand-Atlas -- is considered the most complete moon map of its age, and would not be surpassed for 40 years.
Walter Goodacre, 1910 – Walter Goodacre, 1910
We don't have to leave everything to the professionals. Walter Goodacre, who drew this extremely detailed 70 inch map, was a British businessman by day (he ran his family's carpet manufacturing business), and an amateur astronomer by night. Though he mostly relied on his own observations as seen through a home telescope, he also referenced existing photos of the moon, and the observations of others to make his map as accurate as possible.
He served as president of the lunar section of the British Astronomical Association for 42 years, and would go on to publish a book of moon maps and descriptions of the moon's features.
NASA, 1996 – NASA, 1996
This NASA-produced false color image combined 15 images of the moon taken by the aptly named Galileo Orbiter, in 1992. The different colored filters indicate soil composition. Red areas generally correspond to the lunar highlands, and blue to orange shades indicate the ancient volcanic lava flow of a "mare," or lunar sea. Bluer mare areas contain more titanium than the orange regions.
NASA, 1999 – NASA, 1999
This NASA map, created by the Lunar Prospector mission, shows how the force of gravity differs across the moon's surface. It's much more powerful around the red spots, which represent "mascons" (high concentrations of dense materials beneath the surface).