THE GOLDEN HANDLE ON THE MOON
Once a month, about 4 days before the full Moon, the sun rises behind the Moon's towering Jura Mountains. For a few magic hours, sunlight dances along the mountain crest while the hardened lava plains below remain in darkness. These are the hours of the Golden Handle. Peter Lowenstein observed the phenomenon on April 26th from Mutare, Zimbabwe:
"I was lucky to catch it," says Lowenstein. "The night sky was perfectly clear when the crest of the Jura Mountains lit up, curving around the edge of Sinus Iridium (the Bay of Rainbows) to form the Golden Handle. This only happens when the Moon is about 11 days old."
The Golden Handle was famously depicted in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: a Space Odyssey when the lunar lander Aries departed en route to the Moon. Its next appearance is slated for May 25, 2018, when the sun rises again over Montes Jura. Lunar photographers, mark your calendar.