Seeing lunar craters with the naked eye

Standard

Just searching through files on my laptop and I came across this picture again:

Moon, Spring 2012
The prominence of the crater right on the terminator – I am a bit rusty at this these days but I’d guess Maginus, with Clavius below – is such that I’d suggest that humans with good eyesight must be able to see craters – it looks to be about half the size of the Mare Crisium, which even those with dismal eyesight (such as me) can see without difficulty.

But that again raises some questions:

  • Why did nobody report the existence of craters before the invention of the telescope?
  • Why did religious zealots suggest that astronomical bodies were smooth and perfect? (After all the Earth is neither and we can all see the Moon is blotchy)
  • Why did no one even seek to map the Moon before telescopes were invented?