Archive | August 2012

Wink at the Moon

Neil Alden Armstrong August 5, 1930 – August 25, 2012
The first person to walk on the Moon on July 20 1969.

After Neil Armstrong’s death this weekend his family issued this statement:

“We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.

Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a community leader in Cincinnati. He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits. As much as Neil cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the expressions of good will from people around the world and from all walks of life. While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

Pete Lawrence put together this excellent guide to finding the Apollo 11 landing site.

There are very few photographs of Neil Armstrong on the Moon. This is one taken by Buzz Aldrin of Neil packing up a rock sample to take back home:

And closer:

This iconic image of Buzz Aldrin was taken by Neil Armstrong – whose reflection is visible in Buzz’s visor.

All images from the Apollo 11 Image Library

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter camera took some close up and enhanced images of the Apollo 11 landing site. This is an animation put together by forum member jumpjack:

More Apollo 11 goodies can be found in this Image of the Week from last year.

Buzz Aldrin’s statement on Neil’s death can be found here.

To have grown up at a time when manned space flight was the norm was both inspirational and exciting – and it will be a very long time before another generation of children will experience that. The manned Apollo missions are what sparked my interest in astronomy and I remember looking at the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission full of awe that people were actually walking around up there.

So this one’s for you Neil:


The White Rings of Marius

Forum member kodemunkey’s recent excursion around the Marius region threw up some interesting questions.  Over to kodemunkey to tell us why…

The Marius Hills are one of my favourite spots on the moon (as anyone who keeps an eye on the “Black Stuff” thread will attest to  :D)

Besides being host to a sinkhole, twenty rilles and two hundred and fifty volcanoes (count ’em if you want :P) and a the bulk of my ‘Black Stuff’ finds, what else is there to see?

Click the first two images to view in full size.
Marius Hills (North is up.)

Marius Hills Sinkhole

Well, there’s these:

They cover the entire region and are quite noticeable in the NAC strips even at the lowest zoom levels, most of them have a high albedo,and others look very old. Having said that, I went looking for these rings elsewhere on the near side, and have found them as far down as the area incorporating Gassendi, Dopplemayer, Pulseux and Leibig craters.

I then turned my attention to the far side, particularly Tsiolkovsky Crater and the Apollo Basin. Perhaps a little disappointingly I didn’t find any there.


1: Why such a high albedo, especially since the area is so old?
2:Why so many in comparison to somewhere like Mare Tranquilatis?
3: Is this only a near side phenomenon?

Lunar erosion at work?

On 4th July 2012 user kodemunkey posted an interesting image in the Interesting terrain thread and suggested that it was a ‘Possible example of the stages of lunar rock erosion?’
I’m not a lunar geologist so can’t tell if this formation is caused by erosion or not but it does look interesting. The centre of the image appears to be a crust formed from a lava flow and looks like it is eroding away at the sides as slabs of the lava crust are splitting away.

Erosion does occur on the Moon but the process takes a lot longer than the erosion processes on the Earth. The solar wind and micro-meteorite impacts appear to be the main drivers of erosion on the Moon today as well as the big temperature change between day and night which weakens and breaks up rock. See the link What causes erosion on the moon? at the end of this post for further information.

NAC: M167417084LE Latitude: 5 Longitude: 120
Near King crater, far side.

From the same NAC strip, an image of boulders which have split probably due to temperature change stress.

A similar image of boulders ‘eroding’ from the edge of a lava crust was posted by user ElisabethB a month later on 4th August 2012 in the same thread.
This is from the Aristarchus region.

NAC: M114267211RC

Useful Links

What causes erosion on the moon?

The Surface of the Moon

Quote: Over billions of years, collisions with meteoroids, large and small, have scarred, cratered, and sculpted the lunar landscape. At the present average rates, one new 10-km-diameter lunar crater is formed every 10 million years, one new 1-m-diameter crater is created about once a month, and 1-cm-diameter craters are formed every few minutes.

A Feathery Treat

Every now and then Moon Zoo produces an image that just needs to be shared. Forum regular kodemunkey found another fresh white crater a while ago. I say another one because the forum contains many examples of these eye-catching recent impacts. And when I say recent I mean these impacts are millions rather than billions of years old. So it’s easy to be a little blasé when yet another one is posted. Until one comes along which hits you between the eyes. We featured one last year. And now we have another – a small unnamed crater on the western edge of Mare Vaporum. Click on the image for a bigger, better view.

Lat: 14.55   Lon: -0.25
M157594937LE / M157594937RE

Here it is in context – one small crater amongst many. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter picked it out and highlighted its symmetrical beauty.

The impact produced some lovely feathery ejecta patterns (which are worth exploring even closer on the NAC images) and a gloriously bumpy and bouldery crater floor. Follow the links above (and this additional resource) for more information on fresh craters or just click on the first image, click again to zoom and sit back and enjoy.