Lunar X and Lunar V

Lunar X

The Lunar "X" is a transient optical feature of the Moon that occurs for about 4 hours near First Quarter phase of the Moon. Because the Earth is not always in the same place when the Moon is in this ideal sunlight location, not everywhere on Earth will always see the Lunar "X" phenomenon every month. However, it occurs frequently enough for most areas that it can be seen, on average, every few months. And it's a bright enough feature that it can even be seen in daylight - if you know when and where to look.

So WHERE is it? In the southern section of the Moon, there are a LOT of craters. The southern highlands are filled with them, whereas much of the northern region is dominated by the darker, lava-filled maria. Check out this labelled graphic below to see where the “Lunar X” is visible among some of the larger craters. This graphic shows the "X" as it would appear as it is just becoming visible - see bottom of the page for the "X" at a more prominently lit time.

Visible due to sunlight striking the tops of three craters – Purbach, LaCaille and Blanchinus – the “X” occurs when the sun is rising and striking the very top of each of them. This feature is easily visible even in very small telescopes, and tripod-mounted binoculars can show it to sharp-eyed observers. Despite it's best apparitions occurring when the sky is dark, the “X” is prominent and visible during daylight hours, as seen in the video below. On Dec 9, 2013, the Lunar X will be visible in North America in the evening; start time for fully-formed "X" is at 19:57 EST and 16:57 PST. 

Check the dates and times below for Lunar X visibility throughout 2016.

Lunar X visibility in 2016, with dates and times (24 hour format)

Jan 16 17:56 EST 14:56 PST

Feb 15 07:44 EST 04:44 PST

Mar 15 20:38 EDT 17:38 PDT

Apr 14 09:39 EDT 06:39 PDT

May 13 21:02 EDT 18:02 PDT

Jun 12 08:08 EDT 05:08 PDT

Jul 11 19:18 EDT 16:18 PDT

Aug 10 06:54 EDT 03:54 PDT

Sep 08 19:18 EDT 16:18 PDT

Oct 08 08:24 EDT 05:24 PDT

Nov 06 21:16 EST 18:16 PST

Dec 06 11:32 EST 08:32 PST

* Bolded dates/times indicate ideal viewing opportunities for North American observers

For more information on the “Lunar X” see the following pages:


Somewhat less well-known is the Lunar V. This sunlit feature is similar to the X in size, but is visible for quite a bit longer after the "X" has dissolved into the background craters. Created by sunlight striking the tops of the crater Ukert and ridges nearby, the "V" shape is slightly larger than the "X", though quite a bit further north, just south of the small Mare Vaporum. As the "X" becomes less prominent over time, the "V" still maintains a distinct shape and may also be viewed with most any small telescope or tripod-mounted binoculars.  See the graphic below for the location of the "V" relative to the "V" as they look a few hours later - this graphic contains fewer annotations.

Lunar X and Lunar V graphic