The Moon

Hooke observes the moon and its ‘vegetable substances’, and speculates how craters may have been formed

Mons Olympus and its ‘vegetable substances’

I have added one small Specimen of the appearance of the parts of the Moon, by describing a small spot of it, which, […] called Mons Olympus (though I think somewhat improperly, being […] rather a vale). […].The Vale […] seems to be some very fruitful place, that is, to have its surface all covered over with some kinds of vegetable substances; for in all positions of the light on it, it seems to give a much fainter reflection then the more barren tops of the incompassing Hills, and those a much fainter then divers other cragged, chalky, or rocky Mountains of the Moon. So that I am not unapt to think, that the Vale may have Vegetables analogus to our Grass, Shrubs, and Trees; and most of these incompassing Hills may be covered with so thin a vegetable Coat, as we may observe the Hills with us to be, such as the short Sheep pasture which covers the Hills of Salisbury Plains.

Craters and proposed causes

Up and down in several parts of this place here describ’d (as there are multitudes in other places all over the surface of the Moon) may be perceived several kinds of pits, which are shap’d almost like a dish, some bigger, some less, some shallower, some deeper, that is, they seem to be a hollow Hemisphere, incompassed with a round rising bank, as if the substance in the middle had been digg’d up, and thrown on either side. These seem to me to have been the effects of some motions within the body of the Moon, analogus to our Earthquakes, by the eruption of which, as it has thrown up a brim, or ridge, round about, higher then the Ambient surface of the Moon, so has it left a hole, or depression, in the middle, proportionably lower…

Crater experiments

Next, the two experimental wayes, by which I have made a representation of them.

The first was with a very soft and well temper’d mixture of Tobacco-pipe clay and Water, into which, if I let fall any heavy body, as a Bullet, it would throw up the mixture round the place, which for a while would make a representation, not unlike these of the Moon; but considering the state and condition of the Moon, there seems not any probability to imagine, that it should proceed from any cause analogus to this; for it would be difficult to imagine whence those bodies should come; and next, how the substance of the Moon should be so soft; but if a Bubble be blown under the surface of it, and suffer’d to rise, and break; or if a Bullet, or other body, sunk in it, be pull’d out from it, these departing bodies leave an impression on the surface of the mixture, exactly like these of the Moon, save that these also quickly subside and vanish.

But the second, and most notable, representation was, what I observ’d in a pot of boyling Alabaster, for there that powder being by the eruption of vapours reduc’d to a kind of fluid consistence, if, whil’st it boyls, it be gently remov’d besides the fire, the Alabaster presently ceasing to boyl, the whole surface, especially that where some of the last Bubbles have risen, will appear all over covered with small pits, exactly shap’d like these of the Moon, and by holding a lighted Candle in a large dark Room, in divers positions to this surface, you may exactly represent all the Phænomena of these pits in the Moon, according as they are more or less inlightned by the Sun.

And that there may have been in the Moon some such motion as this, which may have made these pits…