Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Transcient Lunar Phenomena (TLP) spotlighted by National Geographic

Those of us who spend a lot of time looking at the moon, more specifically along the sweep of the sunrise terminator where the solar phase angle brings out the finest detail, changing over the course of a minutes, are not surprised Aristarchus is far and away the most common location for reports of TLPs.

Aristarchus is to TLPs what Venus is to UFOlogy.

Nevertheless, in formal studies, combing data over decades, and combining that with modern computerized simulations of the apparent view of the Moon at the locations of observers, and our best accounting for feature height and topography, lunar libration and solar phase angles, not all reports of TLPs can, in fact, be accounted for.

The dynamics of the interactions of the Moon with the Geomagnetic field and it's sweep over the very dusty lunar surface is an area of intense interest, and several models have been put forward which may or may not add to our understanding of TLP's.

Here's National Geographic's Robert Lovett's take, on this "mysterious flash" phenomena, which is a legitimate report on an area of genuine scientific interest.

Funded in part by a grant from the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration and at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in northern , a team has set up two 10-inch (25-centimeter) robotic telescopes, in New York CityChile—are enough apart that, most nights, at least one will have clear skies.

Mysterious Moon Flashes Signs of "Last Gasps"?

Astronomer Arlin Crotts is trying to solve a 400-year-old puzzle.

Ever since the invention of the telescope, said the Columbia University astrophysicist, observers around the world have occasionally watched small areas of the moon brighten or "turn fuzzy." Sometimes they even turn reddish.

Read the National Geographic Story HERE.

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