Category Archives: The Moon
Looking for a great gift for your favorite astronomy fan (even if that happens to be yourself?) Then check out this very cool 2014 Moon Calendar from Ashland Astronomy Studio in Oregon — it shows you an entire year of Moon phases, eclipses and other lunar events so you’ll always be in tune with the Moon!
I’ve got mine up right now even though it’s a couple of months early… it looks that nice on my wall!
The Moon may not have any air to breathe, but it does have a very thin exosphere — a diffuse layer of molecules held by gravity above its surface that sometimes traps some of the very fine lunar dust in suspension via electrostatic activity. (In fact this very evening, at 11:27 pm EDT, Sept. 6, NASA’s LADEE mission will launch to study that dust suspended in the lunar exosphere.)
Now while you couldn’t take a whiff of the dust on the Moon directly (and if you have allergies, you probably wouldn’t want to) many of the Apollo astronauts reported that the super-fine Moon dust on their suits smelled like burnt gunpowder once they returned to the breathable environment inside the landing modules. But why? Find out here.
Moondust. “I wish I could send you some,” says Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan. Just a thimbleful scooped fresh off the lunar surface. “It’s amazing stuff.”
Feel it—it’s soft like snow, yet strangely abrasive.
Taste it—”not half bad,” according to Apollo 16 astronaut John Young.
Sniff it—”it smells like spent gunpowder,” says Cernan.
Ultimately there may be a correlation between the smell of fresh spring rain here on Earth and the “lovely odor” of sharp, powdery dust on the Moon!
Apollos 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 all successfully delivered men to the Moon between the summer of ’69 and December 1972, but do you know where on the lunar surface they each landed? This awesome vintage map from NASA points each site out (and is a great lunar atlas as well.)
With four of the six planned lunar missions completed, this chart has been prepared to show the various areas of the lunar “nearside” to be visited by astronauts representing the NASA Apollo program. Apollo’s 11, 12, 14 and 15 are shown at their respective landing points. Apollo 16 and Apollo 17, planned for later this year at Descartes and Taurus Littrow, respectively, also are depicted on the map.
The map was created in March 1972, prior to the launches of Apollo 16 and 17.
All I can think is how good it would look printed large and mounted on the wall of my office. Yes…yes…. very good indeed.
Note: Reposted/updated article from 2012.
“That’s one small step for a man… one giant leap for mankind.”
I’m not sure what else need be said about the significance of what happened on this day in 1969, 44 years ago… it was a shining moment in human history, and will be — should be — remembered forever as an example of what people can achieve when challenged, driven and inspired.
Maybe more giant leaps have been made since then, and undoubtedly more will be made in the future, but this was the first… and to this date, still very much the biggest.
Read the rest of this entry
If you haven’t heard, tomorrow (June 23) will bring the closest full Moon of the year, which will make it appear big and bright in the night sky — a so-called “Supermoon.” But what does this really mean and how does it happen? Dr. Michelle Thaller of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center explains:
While a lot of media outlets have been making a big deal out of the Supermoon, it’s really quite a natural and cyclical event… Read the rest of this entry
Totality — that brief period during a solar eclipse when the Moon is completely centered in front of the Sun’s disk — is a truly amazing sight, so much so that many people who have seen it once (a privileged group that doesn’t include me, sadly!) will travel across the globe in an effort witness it again and again.
During solar eclipse totality the sky not only becomes dark, dropping the temperature and sometimes even allowing stars to be seen, but also the Sun’s outer atmosphere is revealed around the silhouette of the Moon for a few short moments. Unfortunately this is not easily captured on camera because of the rapidly changing lighting situations, and when it is it pales in comparison to the real thing (or so I hear.)
The video above, taken during the November 14 eclipse from Queensland, shows the moments of totality pretty nicely although the streamer effect can’t really be made out. Still, we get a good idea of how the light changes and we can see another effect called “Baily’s Beads”, where sunlight peeks through some of the relief of the Moon’s terrain along its outer limb. Also the “diamond ring” effect can be seen as the Sun is uncovered.
Enjoy, and thanks to YouTube user solareclipse eclipsevidgvale for the upload!
Today, tens of thousands of people are gathering in northeastern Australia to witness one of the most amazing and dramatic astronomical events known: a total solar eclipse. At 2:39 p.m. EDT (19:39 UT) the Moon will begin to pass in front of the Sun for viewers around Cairns, Australia, leading up to a brief period of totality at 5:12 p.m. EDT (22:12 UT). At this time, the Sun will be completely blocked by the disk of the Moon, revealing the wispy strands of the Sun’s outer corona. It will be a spectacular view that’s possible at no other time, and will give scientists a chance to study some curious aspectsof the Sun’s atmosphere.
“On a scale of one to ten, a total solar eclipse is a MILLION.” – Fred Espenak, aka “Mr. Eclipse“