Thursday, January 24, 2013

48 Years of memories of Alphonsus and Ranger 9

Alphonsus crater, at "dead center" of experienced amateur observer and Fayetteville, North Carolina newspaperman Johnny Horne's 5 inch reflector, Saturday evening, January 19, 2013 [Fayetteville Observer].
Johnny Horne
Fayetteville Observer

Last Saturday night I was at my telescope trying some photographic techniques on the moon using a 5-inch refractor telescope. .

I was photographing the large lunar crater Alphonsus which was just coming into sunlight, its central mountain peak casting a  shadow across the crater floor.

The 67-mile wide Alphonsus was one of the first lunar craters I could identify through my small telescope as a child in the 60s…finding it with the aid of a moon map in Sky and Telescope magazine. My interest in astronomy was fueled, as was the case for so many of my generation, by the US space program…both manned and unmanned.

One evening in March 1965 I was watching the evening news, specifically a story about one of the Ranger moon probes.

Alphonsus crater in a monochrome (689 nm) mosaic stitched together from eight sequential orbital observations of the LROC Wide Angle Camera in 2010. The March 24, 1965 impact site of Ranger 9 (captured at very high-resolution by LROC below - 12.8288°S, 2.3919°W) is marked by the arrow [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].
The Ranger probes, unlike later robotic probes that would soft land on or orbit the moon, were designed to impact the lunar surface…not so much a landing site as a smoking hole in the moon…

They would be taking pictures and sending them back to Earth right up until  impact.

That’s if they even made it to the moon.

Read the full article, HERE.

This exceptionally detailed photograph of the impact site of Ranger 9 on the floor of Alphonsus appears to include an inner disk of darker material perhaps 10 meters across. LROC Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) observation M170579736R, LRO orbit 10272, September 13, 2011; angle of illumination incidence 16.1° at 49.6 cm per pixel resolution from 44.64 km [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

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