During the late 19th century, we ran "Astronomy with an Opera-Glass," a regular feature where writers discussed how laymen could study the cosmos using basic theater binoculars. The map pictured left identifies key areas of the moon using translations of their Latin names. The lunar maria, or dried, basaltic lava-filled lunar plains, were called seas by ancient astronomers who mistook the darkened areas for water.
But what of the moon's condition and topography? There was only so much you could figure out via telescope. By this point, telescopes had shown us that the moon was "a mere planetary skeleton" devoid of liquid water, vegetation, and sentient life. From Earth, the whole thing looked pretty lifeless, but there was no reason to believe that the moon completely lacked an atmosphere or soil capable of sustaining life. At any rate, the rugged mountain ranges and vast craters were alien enough to capture our fancy.
"If we could visit those ancient sea-bottoms, or explore those glittering mountains," we wrote, "We might, perchance, find there some remains or mementoes of a race that flourished, and perhaps was all gathered again to its fathers, before man appeared upon the earth."
Read the full story in "Astronomy with an Opera-Glass: The Moon and the Sun"