The lunar maps shown in this post were created long before satellite images became available. The topography is highly detailed and the historical backgrounds of the astronomers who created them are compelling.
The first working telescope was built in the Netherlands in 1608. British astronomer Thomas Harriot (1560-1621) made the first recorded sketches of the moon in 1609 after viewing it through a telescope. A few months later Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) also made recorded sketches of the moon. Galileo used the chiaroscuro technique to shade the light and dark parts of the lunar mountains and craters. An example of one of Galileo’s lunar maps is shown on the left.
British mapmaker John Seller (1632-1697) was accused of high treason for allegedly repeating rumors about a stockpile of arms. He was found guilty and imprisoned in 1662. He was later pardoned and appointed Hydrographer to the King in 1671, which meant he published nautical charts and sailing directions for the Crown. In addition to sailing charts, Seller published the first British celestial atlas Atlas Caelestis in 1680. The lunar map shown below is from a later atlas that was published by Seller in 1700. The title of the atlas is Atlas Terrestris. It is bound in vellum with brass clasps.
Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius (1611-1687) came from a wealthy family of brewers. He built an observatory in his hometown of Gdansk in 1641. Hevelius is often referred to as the founder of lunar topography. He published an atlas of the moon titled Selenographia in 1647. Featured below is a map from the atlas.
Below is an image of a plate from Johann Baptist Homann’s Grosser Atlas über die gantze Welt … The map on the left was created by Johannes Hevelius. The map on the right was composed by two Jesuit priests, Francesco Grimaldi (1618-1663) and Giovanni Riccioli (1598-1671). Riccioli named many of the moon’s features including the Sea of Tranquility (Mare Tranquillitatis), the site for the first manned lunar landing on July 20, 1969.
The map below is in both the French and German languages. It shows diagrams for the lunar eclipse that occurred on August 8th, 1748. The map was made by Tobias Mayer (1723-1762). Mayer was a German mathematician and astronomer who produced charts that contained accurate methods for calculating eclipses.
Johann Friedrich Julius Schmidt (1825-1884) was an astronomer and geophysicist who had a lifelong interest in the study of the moon. In 1858 Schmidt became director of the National Observatory of Athens. He published an atlas of the moon titled Charte der Gebirge des Mondes nach eigenen Beobachtungen in den Jahren 1840-1874. The maps were made by Wilhelm Lohrmann (1796-1840) who created a topographical series of the moon complete in 25 sheets. Schmidt edited and published all 25 sections of Lohrmann’s lunar topography in 1878. The map featured below is an example of one of the plates from the atlas.
Maurice (Moritz) Loewy (1833-1907) was born in Vienna, Austria. He became a French citizen after obtaining a position at the Paris Observatory in 1860. Loewy became director of the observatory in 1896. That same year he published the Atlas Photographique de la lune with another French astronomer Pierre Puiseux (1855-1928). A camera was attached to a telescope to photograph the moon. A preset clock system was used to synchronize the camera and telescope with the lunar path. The photographs were enlarged and transferred to an etching plate. Thousands of photographic prints were made from a single plate. The following is an example of a photograph from the atlas.
The collections of Geography and Map Division also include lunar globes, relief models, and modern satellite images. In this post I have shared only a few examples of lunar cartography held at the Library of Congress.