Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick
mckitterick

Astro-Porn of the Day: NASA Bombs the Moon Tomorrow

The bombings will begin tomorrow morning at 4:30AM US Pacific time, 6:30AM Central, and so forth; for those living on the East Coast (or farther east), the Sun will wreck your viewing. Specifically, that's when LCROSS (the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) and its Centaur rocket crash into the Lunar South Pole, the rocket striking about four minutes before the spacecraft. The goal is to discover how much water ice exists in the Moon's permanently shadowed craters.

Click the image to see the story.

If you can see your home region in this image, you can watch the attack on the Moon with your own telescope:


NASA says you'll need a 'scope of at least 10-inch diameter to see the event. Smaller instruments don't have enough light-gathering power to show the impact flash as well as debris and possibly water vapor rising into the sunlight above the Cabeus-A crater's rim. The rocket hits first, throwing up a 5-mile-high cloud that the LCROSS spaceship flies through, using infrared spectrometers and video cameras to determine how much water is on the Moon. Here's where to look:

Click the image to see impact-site details (target crater is Cabeus-A).

However, everyone can view the event in super-resolution by going to the NASA TV site (or watching NASA TV, of course) starting 15 minutes before the first crash.

Click the image for more impact-observing tips.

Bonus: On August 17, LCROSS took this shot of the crescent Earth from 323,000 miles out, 547,000 miles from the Moon:

Click the image to see the story.

Now there's something you don't see every day. Don't miss it!

Chris
Tags: astronomy
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