October 21, 2017

02.04.11: Stalking an Impact.

Click image to see animation…(Credit: Stefano Sposetti/Marco Iten/Geological Lunar Researches Group).

Take a look at the image above. It may not be one of the most colorful we’ve ever run, but it shows something dramatic; a possible impact on the limb of the Moon. On February 11 of this year, Stefano Sposetti and Marco Iten of Gnosca Observatory Switzerland used a Borg 125 ED refractor and a high speed video camera along with a similar setup attached to a Celestron 11 at a separate location to record the flash on the nighttime side of the then just past 1st Quarter Moon. [Read more...]

22.03.10- On the Trail of Lunar Water.

The Moon as imaged during the 1999 Cassini flyby. (Credit: CASA/JPL/USGS).

The Moon as imaged during the 1999 Cassini flyby. (Credit: CASA/JPL/USGS).

 

    Last year’s big news story was the announcement of water on the Moon. This evidence came from five separate sources, and spanned over a decades’ worth of data. This climaxed with the October 9th impact of the LCROSS spacecraft in the quest for a moisture laden plume. Now, a reanalysis of lunar samples returned by Apollo astronauts have turned up evidence of microscopic water beads imbedded in volcanic glass. This leads scientist Alberto Saal to suggest that the lunar interior may contain water in the order of 745 parts per million, a tiny but measureable amount.

The first whiff of water in the form of clay hydroxyls came from the Clementine and Lunar Prospector orbiters in the mid 90’s. Cassini imaged the Moon in the infrared on its way out to Saturn, but the water signature detected at the time was suspected to be due to spacecraft contamination. More recently, lunar water got a boost from NASA’s spectrometer aboard the Indian orbiter Chandrayaan 1 and observations by the Deep Impact spacecraft in its role of simulated exoplanet hunter… keep in mind, the amount of water being discussed is tiny; were talking maybe a liter per ton of lunar regolith near the poles, and half that amount at the equator! With the cancellation of Constellation, it’s to be seen if any of the proposed unmanned rovers will take up the hunt for lunar water over the next few years.

2010: A Lookback at the Year in Science and a Look Ahead.

 

 

New Hubble pics! (Credit: NASA/ESA/STS Inst.)

New Hubble pics! (Credit: NASA/ESA/STS Inst.)

 

2009 was a year of silent triumph in the world of science. Unmanned spacecraft scoured the solar system, while at home, we saw the first tentative steps signaling a transitioning of manned spaceflight. Indeed, as we pause to enter a new decade, all eyes are on change and what it will bring about for science and the world at large. As we endeavor to keep up with our ceaseless calendar, here’s the Astroguyz down and dirty on happenings in 2009 A.D. and a look ahead;   [Read more...]

09.10.09: An LCROSS Update.

NASA’s LCROSS spacecraft performed its promised “moon crash” early this AM at 0731 AM EDT… all eyes, electronic and otherwise were on Cabeus crater. Unfortunately, no impact was detected here at Astroguyz HQ in Hudson, Florida, although we did have a rising Sun and a brightening sky to contend with. The 10 AM news conference at the Ames research center revealed that the secondary control module of LCROSS did detect the impact in both UV and IR signatures as well as a visual fix on the crater created by the Centaur booster. The controller itself met its fiery end four minutes later. Ground based observatories from Apache Point, New Mexico to the Keck telescopes in Hawaii to observatories in South Korea as well as Hubble, LRO, and Sweden’s ODIN in orbit all gathered data. Its to be seen if any amateur ‘scopes recorded this event. Kitt Peak did record a sodium flash during the event. Of course, the data itself will need to be compiled and analyzed before any meaningful scientific conclusions can be done…I smell a follow up post! Kudos to all that woke up early to look at our nearest neighbor in space, as well as NASA scientists that are no doubt now getting some much needed sleep!

 

LCROSS Strikes Back!

The Moon won’t know what hit it Friday. On October 9th at 11:30 Universal Time, the LCROSS twin impactors will slam into the Moon’s south pole region. The quarry; permanently shaded water ice. LCROSS consists of a upper stage Centaur rocket weighing in at 5,200 lbs and a controlling “shepherd” spacecraft weighing in at 1,900 lbs. The stage section will separate shortly before impact, enabling the control package to fly through the resulting debris plume, which is expected to be 6 miles high at eject 350 tons of material from the surface. Both will successively slam into the surface at 5,600 mph. Recently, the candidate impact crater was shifted from Cabeus A to Cabeus proper.

[Read more...]

October 2009: Life in the AstroBlog-o-Sphere.

(Editor’s note: If case you haven’t noticed, we’re shaking things up here a bit at Astroguyz. Specifically, our news bits have gone to a daily affair, to allow for more nimble and timely coverage. It’s a swiftly changing world out there in the realm of space blogging, and Astroguyz is right there with you! Our monthly news round up will instead be a sneak peak at the month ahead, some bits old and some new. Read on…

Coming to an October Sky near you: This month, all telescopes will be turned on the south pole of the Moon on the 9th as the Delta Centaur upper stage known as LCROSS slams into the lunar surface. Will anything be visible? The only sure way to know is to look! The Harvest Full Moon, a rarity for October, arrives this month on the 4th. [Read more...]

29.9.9: Can you Spot the Cave in Copernicus?

I’ve got a unique challenge for you, as you brush up on your lunar geography in anticipation for next weeks’ LCROSS impact. Next time you’re viewing the waxing gibbous Moon with your friends, amaze them (or make them think your totally crazy) by issuing the off-handed remark; “Did you know that there is a ‘cave’ in the crater Copernicus? The “cave” in question is, of course, an optical illusion. Its interesting to note, however, that in the pre-Apollo era, would-be Selenographers were faced with a lunar landscape that was much less straight forward. This first came to our attention while reading a February 2003 article in Sky & Telescope written by Steven O’Meara. The cave itself rests on the northern inner lip of the crater and is elusive unless caught at the precise sun-angle of 10.7 degrees above the local lunar horizon. This generally occurs around 10-12 days of age, and I encourage you to take a look early this week. [Read more...]

LCROSS target crater announced.

Scientists at NASA have announced the candidate target crater for the LCROSS impactor on October 9th; Cabeus A, a 11km wide polar crater thought to contain the ever- elusive water ice. The Centaur upper stage will slam into the carter floor at 7:30 AM EDT, at which time the Moon will be waning gibbous, and about 70% illuminated, and favoring viewers in the Americas (including Astroguyz HQ!). Contrary to earlier fears, LCROSS has enough fuel to make final maneuvers for impact. Both Keck observatories and LCROSS’s twin, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, as well as a multitude of eager amateur observers will be on hand to witness this rare event!

LRO/LCROSS: Back to the Moon.

A quiet storm began last month at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. On June 18th, 2009, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) lifted off towards our nearest neighbor, the Moon. This marks the first of NASA’s unmanned missions that will herald the eventual return of man to the Moon. As this month also marks the 40th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 landing, this return couldn’t be more timely. [Read more...]

Apollo 11 40 Years Later: Did We Really go to the Moon?

 

 

As the 40th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing rolls around this month, its time to address the inevitable. Every so often at a star party, someone asks me if you can see the flag(s) we left on the Moon. When I explain that even the largest pieces of hardware, the base of the lunar landers, were only a scant seven meters across, far below the resolution power of my 8″ reflector, someone inevitably pipes up in the dark; “because we never did go there, that’s really why!”

Of course, I already know that no amount of reasoning will dissuade some people; the outlook is “the government hides everything,” and that tends to be the ultimate answer for any conspiracy. [Read more...]

April 2009 News & Notes.

The Successful Launch of Kepler: The Kepler space telescope launched successfully last month on March 6th, during a spectacular night launch. Sporting one of the biggest CCD imagers ever to leave Earth, Kepler is bound for an Earth-trailing, heliospheric orbit. Kepler will spend several months staring at a patch of sky in the direction of Cygnus looking for one of the holy grails in astronomy; Earth-sized, terrestrial planets. Stay tuned! This could be one of the potential discoveries of the year!

[Read more...]