«Sketch and text by Robert H. Hays, Jr. - Worth, Illinois, USA December 31, 2014 02:08-02:34 UT, 15 cm refl, 170x, seeing 8/10 I sketched this crater ...»
15 News: It is with great sadness that I learnt of the passing of Walter Haas (1917-2015), whom most of us will remember as the founder of ALPO. I met Walter at a meeting in Nottinghamshire in 2004, but upon checking some archive audio tapes, it seems that I had met him, and his wife Peggy, many years earlier, during lunch amongst astronomers, when I visited New Mexico State University in Las Cruces in 1987. Walter was a key person who encouraged me to take on the running of the LTP section at ALPO, and was, despite his age, still able to submit routine observations right up until 2003. He kick started modern interest in attempting to observe changes on the Moon with the famous paper: “Does Anything Ever Happen on the Moon”, which was published in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in 1942 (http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1942JRASC..36..237H ). He had even made 47 observations of LTP himself, and you can attempt to observe what the normal appearances of these features should have been like when you see his name crop up in the repeat illumination predictions (see web link at the foot of this newsletter). Walter also encouraged amateurs to work together simultaneously to look for evidence of impact flashes/flares at the Moon, many decades before the modern video impact flash era – a true pioneer in every sense.
Figure 2. Pictures courtesy of NHK and Kevin Kilburn.
(Top) Tony Cook with film crew and Reina Shimizu, on freezing cold day, on location at Aberystwyth Castle.
(Bottom) Kevin Kilburn with Yoshinori Tsutsui (producer) and the film crew at Manchester Astronomical Society Observatory.
Also I learnt from Alexandre Amorim, that another key LTP expert, Ronaldo Rogerio de Freitas Mourao, passed away in 2014. Mourao organized Brazilian amateur astronomers during the Apollo watch era 1968-1972.
16 The Japanese TV company, NHK, produced a 52 minute documentary about LTP for their Cosmic Front Science series. It was shown on the NHK Space Cable network, on 2015 April 9th in Japan (see http://www.nhk.or.jp/space/info/cfn_moon.html for some animations – albeit overly exaggerated for a TV audience). I was involved in about three days of filming here in Aberystwyth, and Kevin Kilburn, of the Manchester Astronomical Society was also involved with showing them a telegram received from NASA during the Apollo 11 mission, concerning LTP reports of glows seen in Aristarchus crater. Several ALPO, BAA, and UAI members contributed images to this program, and these were acknowledged at the end of the video recording. If I hear about it being re-broadcast on NHK World, which can be received by satellite or cable internationally, then I will let you know.
The changes to the LTP program that I mentioned last month, will start to be implemented from June onwards – as you can understand it takes time to make changes. But as a taster, please check this web site in the next few days (http://users.aber.ac.uk/atc/tlp/spot_the_difference.htm ).
LTP Reports: Two reports for March, were covered last month, but I will repeat them again here in
case they jog a memory:
Aristarchus: 2015 Mar 03 UT23:38 Brendan Shaw (UK – BAA) whilst looking at the Moon on his computer screen, in between imaging the crater, noticed a flash on the NW rim of Aristarchus when his camera had an IR pass band filter in place. The seeing was not very good at the time – so it was either a bright small craterlet just coming into view, during a brief moment of good seeing, or it was more likely a cosmic ray air shower decay particle impinging on the camera chip. Either way, it is worth checking under the same illumination conditions in future, and so I shall assign this report weight of 1.
Moon: 2015 March 08 UT 01:25-01:30 Alex Abbinante (Ames, Iowa) saw, with the naked eye, a dark line move across the Moon very slowly. After some email correspondence with him, I think we came (or were coming to) a similar conclusion, that because the Moon was very low down, and there is a large atmospheric path length between him and the Moon, that it probably was an aircraft contrail. I have both seen, and videoed, these on a number of occasions. They can be quite spectacular, but are clearly not really lunar related. This has received a weight of 0. Paul Zeller was observing a lot later at 06:15-07:25UT, but reported nothing unusual.
Routine Reports: Below is a selection of reports received for March that can help to re-assess past LTP observations. As you can see some of these old LTP reports we can solve, but remain a puzzle. Of those that remain a puzzle, we may drop some of these from the list of scheduled observations if it looks unlikely that repeat illumination observation will help explain them. Some are low weight anyway, and so do not matter.
East of Picard: On 2014 Mar 2 Brian Halls (BAA) observed and imaged (see Fig 3) this area under the same
illumination and topocentric libration to a Patrick Moore and Richard Baum’s LTP seen in 1948:
E. of Picard 1948 Aug 16/17 UTC 22:30-02:26 Observed by Moore & Baum (Chester, UK) described in NASA catalog as: "2 areas E. of Picard appeared featureless. Cloud-like patches, 12(?) inch reflector.
NASA catalog weight=4. NASA catalog ID No. #509. ALPO/BAA weight=3.
Brian was using a 6” f/8 Achromat under seeing III conditions and made both visual and a CCD observation. Brian commented that the only featureless patch east of Picard was the bright patch on the mare floor of Crisium, that which surrounds the small crater Curtis. He checked this area several times during that observing night. Brian’s images show no sign of two cloud-like patches east of Picard, just Curtis, and even that is not very cloud-like - when the image is sharpened. Therefore this Moore and Baum observation remains a puzzle, because what they should have seen is shown in Fig 1, but they reported something quite different.
Therefore I shall keep the weight at 3 for now, and will consider raising it to a 4 if more details of the original observations could be found confirming the original description given in the Cameron catalog.
17 Figure 3. Image by Brian Halls of the Mare Crisium interior, orientated with north towards the top taken on 2015 Mar 02 UT19:40. (Left) Image taken showing a hazy smudge just left of centre. (Right) The hazy smudge is clearly resolved into Curtis crater in this high pass filtered (sharpened) version of the same area.
Herodotus: On 2015 Mar 03 UT 02:20-03:35 Jay Albert observed the Aristarchus area under similar
illumination to Peter Grego’s observation of a peak on the southern floor of this crater, exhibiting a shadow:
Herodotus 1985 May 31 UT 20:20-21:00 Observed by Grego (Birmingham, UK, 175mm refractor) "Sketch shows a pseudo-peak with shadow in the southern half of the crater's floor - there should be no peak on the floor of Herodotus. There is a light spot here but there should be no shadow." ALPO/BAA weight=2.
Jay was using a Celestron C11 SCT and the Moon was high - it was mostly clear, but hazy with no breeze, transparency was 3rd magnitude and seeing went from 7/10 to 6/10. Jay noticed the light spot on the floor, south east of the crater centre, and commented that the “black shadow” touching the E edge of the light spot appeared to be the shadow of the E wall. There was a faint hint of grey shadow (marginally darker than the surrounding crater floor) on the western edge of the light spot. The light spot appeared to be a slight, rounded elevation or bulge in the crater floor. Jay had seen this light spot with barely perceptible grey shadow before, and believes this appearance may be normal for this solar angle. I concur and remember a GLR study by Raffaelo Lena which also found a similar effect here. We have being doing repeat illumination studies of this southern pseudo peak effect for some time now, and with similar results – it is predictable. I will therefore reduce the weight from 2 to 0, and declare this to be a LTP no longer, just the normal appearance of a white spot on the SE corner of this crater.
Torricelli B: On 2015 Mar 03 UT 22:20-22:25 and 22:32 Marie Cook observed, and Brendan Shaw imaged (see Fig 4) this crater under the same illumination conditions to the following 1985 LTP:
On 1985 Jul 01 at 02:00-03:00 UT K. Marshall (Medellin, Columbia) observed that Torricelli B was very bright - verified using a C.E.D. No color was seen though. The Cameron 2006 catalog ID=279 and the weight=4. The ALPO/BAA weight=2.
Brendan’s image clearly shows Torricelli B as not especially bright, even after I sharpened and contrast stretched it. The appearance is backed up by Marie Cook’s observation, made with a 90mm Questar, x80-130 under Antoniadi III seeing and moderate to poor transparency, where she commented that the crater “looked dull”, though local cloud was gathering above her site at this point. We have had plenty of repeat illumination/libration observations of this crater, and the fact that the 2015 Mar 03 observation is repeat illumination only, makes me think it odd that Kevin Marshall, who measured it with a C.E.D. instrument in 1985, reported it bright. Therefore I will raise the weight of this LTP report to a 3.
Solar Eclipse: On 2014 Mar 20 many observers in the UK tried to capture the partial Solar Eclipse – but were thwarted by thick cloud, but for once the Welsh sky was mostly clear. There are a small number of LTP that have been reported during solar eclipses – most concern the Astronomer Royal, Edmund Halley e.g. on 1715 May 03 there was an account of “lightening on the face of the Moon” observed by de Louville (France) and Edmund Halley (UK).We suspect strongly now that these may have been misinterpretations of solar flares and
19 Torricelli: On 2015 Mar 27 UT 20:49 Ivor Walton (CADSAS) imaged this region under the same illumination and topocentric libration conditions (to within +/-1°) to a LTP seen on 2003 Nov 1 by Marie Cook, and videoed
Torricelli area 2003 Nov 01 UT 17:45-19:59 Observed by M. Cook (Mundesley, UK, 90mm Questar Cat.
x80, Seeing III, Transparency Very Poor) and A. Cook (Long Eaton, UK, 20cm Newtonian + CCD camera + 3x Barlow). "At 17:45 UT M. Cook noticed an extremely dark, dense, circular area with a ghost type crater surrounding it. It lay in the Mare Tranquilitatis - not easy to identify the region. A. Cook observed with a CCD camera (seeing V) and commented that: as the feature concerned was probably Torricelli and that as the sun was 29 deg above the horizon at this crater, it seemed strange that most of the floor appeared dark (perhaps in shadow?), although this could be due to small scale steep topography making the area look dark from lots of local shadow. Other nearby craters did not appear to have such dark shadows." Note it is possible that this may have been the shadow of the west rim of Torricelli casting a shadow? BAA Lunar Section observation. ALPO/BAA weight=1.
Now this 2003 report, has been considered to be probably normal surface appearance, but looked odd at the time, hence why it has retained a weight of 1 up until now – just in case. However now we have Ivor’s image, at the same illumination, and libration, and it looks very similar – see Fig 6. Therefore I am really very happy to remove this from the LTP catalog, by assigning a weight of 0. You can see though why it caused some interest back in 2003, because Torricelli is a flattish crater, and one would not expect a shadow like appearance here when the Sun is 29° above the local horizon. It was even more impressively odd in appearance when seen visually.
Figure 6. Torricelli with north towards the top.
(Left) A frame from the video taken myself on 2003 Nov 01. (Right) A color image taken by Ivor Walton on 2015 Mar 27.
Copernicus: On 2015 Mar 29 UT17:28-17:49 both Franco Taccogna (UAI) and Thomas Bianchi (UAI) imaged (Fig 7) Copernicus under the same illumination conditions, to within +/-0.5°, to the following LTP report from 1932:
Copernicus 1932 Mar 16 UT 18:45-19:30 Observed by Barker (Cheshunt, England, 12.5" reflector, x310) "Term. from Cop. to lat. 20S was misty & hard to define. The terminator beyond this latitude zone was its usual sharp definition. Mistiness cleared at 1930. Cleaned his eyepiece & prism but it persisted. The night was clear without any trace of cloud in the sky" NASA catalog weight=3. NASA catalog ID #402.
The images taken by Thomas and Franco quite clearly show that for the illumination conditions seen in Barker’s 1932 observation, there clearly should not have been any mistiness in the vicinity of Copernicus, or south of it. The only thing I can think of is that it might have been something like an aircraft contrail passing across the Moon and causing localized seeing blur, however this would not account for the 45 min duration of the event seen by Barker in 1932. On the other hand if the event was lunar in origin, then this is an enormous area to explain by current explanations for LTP, namely ~900 km in length. So we have an unexplained 20 observation here, but I will not increase the weight to a 3 as it is difficult to explain by current lunar processes we know about.
Figure 7. Copernicus with north towards the top as imaged on 2015 Mar 29.
. (Left) Monochrome image by Thomas Bianchi (UAI) taken at UT 17:34. (Centre) Color image by Franco Taccogna (UAI) taken at 17:39. (Right) Color image by Franco Taccogna (UAI) taken at 17:47.
Gassendi: On 2015 Mar 31 UT 09:23 Maurice Collins (ALPO) imaged (Fig 8) Gassendi under the same
illumination conditions to a couple of LTP seen in 1966 and 1977 respectively:
Gassendi 1966 May 30 UT 20:32-20:59 Observed by Sartory (England, 8.5" reflector + filters) "SW wall blink - Orange patch & obscuration -- detected by Eng. moon blink system. Color seen visually."NASA catalog weight=4. NASA catalog ID #941. ALPO/BAA weight=3.
Gassendi 1977 Sep 23 UTC 21:15 Observed by Cook (Frimley, England, 6" reflector x144, Seeing IV (Antoniadi)) "Prominent red dot seen at central peak, also a hint of red on floor in N. quadrant of crater.
More likely to be spurious color than LTP the observer feels". ALPO/BAA weight=1.