An exceptionally detailed image of the third-quarter moon taken with a 31-inch telescope and a digital camera. (Image Credit & © Jim Misti, Misti Mountain Observatory; used by permission)
. Note that on the right, near the day-night "line" or terminator, the long shadows cast by the Sun (which is nearly on the lunar horizon as seen from that part of the Moon) make even small features cast long ragged shadows, while the lunar maria, even under the same lighting, appear almost completely smooth save for faint traces of ancient lava flows, showing that the maria are extremely smooth compared to the more rugged highlands. Also note that near the terminator craters stand out sharply (particularly on the heavily cratered bottom (southern) portion of the image, while off to the left, where the Sun is higher in the sky and the shadows it casts are correspondingly shorter, the craters are much harder to pick out. Instead we see bright "rays" and other contrast features caused by the fact that impact craters and ejecta from those craters are brighter (if sufficiently "young") than the surrounding surface. As the craters age their interiors and rays gradually fade in the harsh light of the Sun. Finally, it should be noted that the image shown here is cropped relative to the "thumbnail" image on the entry page, partly to show the portion that is left in more detail than would be possible without making it considerably wider, and partly to cut off the overexposed region near the limb (where the Sun is nearly overhead and the lunar image is much brighter).