How Are Craters Formed on the Moon?

Viewing our near neighbor through a telescope is fascinating and spectacular. You may be shocked by just how many features you see through the telescope. That we just don’t get to see with the naked eye. When we first see the moon through a telescope. Many often ask many questions like how are craters formed on the moon?

The craters on the surface of the moon are impact craters. These craters are formed when an asteroid or comet hit the moon’s surface over the moon’s 4.5 billion years history. They are still visible due to the lack of erosion caused by the moon having no atmosphere.

Right, so the craters come from asteroid or comet hitting the surface of the moon. However, this may leave you with more questions. One is why don’t the craters slowly fade away over time or how big are they; let us answer these and more below.

Why are the craters still there?

The moon has no atmosphere, so the craters remain for us to see them when using telescopes. There is no wind or plant growth as there is no atmosphere, so erosion can not happen with so little to remove the creators on the surface of the moon; they remain.

Even the footprints of the men who walked on the moon are still on the moon’s surface, and there is little chance of them going aware soon.

So, if anything hits the surface of the moon, the impact will be frozen in time. If any luna landing or any other objects hit the moon’s surface, the number of craters and marks will keep growing.

What is the biggest crater on the moon?

The moon has some large craters, but the biggest is the South Pole-Aitken basin, and it’s 2,500 km (1,600 mi) in diameter and 13 km (8.1 mi) deep.

On 3 January 2019, China landed the Chang’e 4 spacecraft in the South Pole-Aitken Basin. Later in the year, scientists announced that a large mass of material was discovered deep in the Basin thought to be metal.

The smallest crater we can see with the naked eye is the Kepler Crater. A small crater in moon terms at just 20 miles (32 km) in diameter.

How are craters measured on the moon?

Measuring moon craters is not as scientific as you may have thought and pretty simple and can be a little surprising.

The sun shining on the moon creates shadows on the moon’s surface, just like on earth.

When these shadows are cast, they are measured, which gives us the size of the moon craters.

To discover more on this subject and learn a lot more about measuring the moon creators. A Great website how the whole process and calculation works, see here. You may be amazed just how simple the calculation is carried out.

How many craters are on the moon?

There are thought to be 5,185 craters on the moon’s surface that are bigger than 12 miles across. However, it is thought to be well over 1,000,000 craters over half a mile and over half a billion over 10m vast.

Craters on the moon are always being discovered, and the international astronomical union governs, the names given to any new finds. I suspect that many more craters will be found over the next few years as lunar travel is set to begin. The US is set to land the first woman on the moon before 2024. So with the ever-growing technology, I feel there will be a lot more lunar discoveries.

How are the craters categorized?

As there are so many different craters on the moon’s surface, they are needed to be categorized. The international astronomical union help achieve this, and they fall into the below.

Craters, Mare, Mons, Montes, Vallis, Dorsum, Rima, Rupis, Lacus, Sinus, Palus

As discoveries are found, they will be placed into the categorize above, and the international astronomical union will have the ultimate deciding vote.


We found out more than just how moon craters were formed on the surface of the moon. Any impact on the earth will remain forever, just like the first man’s footprints on the moon.

If you enjoy viewing the moon with a moon telescope, I suggest searching for the lunar 100. An enjoyable and challenging search for 100 lunar surface features.