Tag Archive | Forum

International Observe the Moon Night – 8 October 2011

This year’s IOTMN is just one day away. This is the one day of the year when all lunarphiles hope for clear skies and if we get them there will be a lovely waxing gibbous 11 day old Moon to observe.

11 day old Moon – J Wilkinson


This will be ideal for observing the spectacular Kepler and Copernicus craters and the dramatic Apennine Mountains and Mare Imbrium. Check the IOTMN website to see if there is an observing event near you. But the great thing about the Moon is that you don’t need a telescope or binoculars to observe it – just go out and look up. If it’s a clear night why not take a photo and post it on the Moon Zoo forum? We’d love to see it. However if it is cloudy don’t worry as there are still plenty of things you can do to celebrate IOTMN. Why not spend an hour or so measuring craters or matching boulders in Moon Zoo? If you use Facebook have you discovered the excellent Moon Zoo app? The more you classify on Moon Zoo the more features you can unlock on the app starting with the most common to the rarest features on the Moon. You can learn about the features as as you collect them and even share them with your friends. The app also tells you how many classifications you have done! Did you know there’s also a Facebook Moon Zoo page? Over 400 people like it already. Let’s see if we can add some more on Saturday! And if you use Twitter why not follow @moonzoo and keep up with the latest news?

So whether it’s cloudy or clear why not make IOTMN your night to get more involved with the Moon – and Moon Zoo?

Jules is a volunteer moderator for the Moon Zoo forum



Let the voting begin…

Last week Moon Zoo moderator Thomas presented us with a superb selection of images from the first year of Moon Zoo. Now it’s time to vote for your favourite. Browse the images below to remind yourself and pick out the one you like the most. Pop over to the forum and cast your vote. You’ll need to create a zooniverse account if you don’t already have one – it’s the work of a moment so go on, do it! Voting ends Tuesday 24 May. The winning picture will be announced soon after and we’ll hunt down the best resolution version we can find so you can have a nice new desktop image!

MAY 2010 INA












Jules is a volunteer moderator for the Moon Zoo forum

One Year on the Moon

This week, Moon Zoo celebrates its first year since launch back in May 2010. Initially designed as a way to count and measure craters, the simple ‘point and click’ interface was an inspired idea allowing users to mark out craters seen in high resolution images of the lunar surface.  The addition of a tool to ‘flag’ interesting features, objects and locations has provided some great discussion and superb image posts to our forum.
We’ve hunted down and rediscovered the ‘Apollo’ and ‘Lunar’ landing sites in unprecedented detail, searched for lost spacecraft debris and followed miles of boulder tracks. Our hunt for the ‘weird and wonderful’ has revealed stunning volcanic vistas, beautifully defined features and intricate crater chains.  Recent work on the forum, using new tools and techniques, has allowed us to study the lunar surface at oblique angles revealing yet more lunar mysteries and, equally, more questions.

For this special ‘Image of the Week’/Blog I have decided to take a retrospective look at the last year, recounting some of the amazing features and locations posted on the forum. I would like to post every image from our weekly slot but I’ll choose one of my personal favourites from each month.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

From our first Image of the Week in May 2010 The volcanic caldera ‘Ina’.

Ina (named after a lunar goddess in Polynesian mythology) is an odd looking “D shaped” lunar geological feature about 2 kilometres wide which was first spotted by the Apollo Astronauts. (Jules)

LPOD image

Moon Zoo image

June 2010 Caro’s Tadpole.

Posted by Caro as something odd and maybe a possible crater chain, it is rich in detail and looks a little like a tadpole complete with a tail. (Thomas)

July 2010 Great Fresh Whites.

Fresh white impact craters are the most recent impacts on the Moon. Anything less than a billion years old (which means it is from the current Copernican era), is considered young in lunar terms. (Jules)

August 2010 Deep Seated Fractures.

Could they help us in the hunt for Transient Lunar Phenomena (TLP)?

September 2010 Moon Bridges

This is the King Crater Bridge from LROC image number M113168034R (Jules)

October 2010 The Aristarcus Region.

Aristarchus crater was named after the Greek astronomer Aristarchus of Samos by an Italian mapmaker called Giovanni Riccioli. The crater is relatively young, being formed approximately 450 million years ago and is one of the brightest craters on the nearside with an albedo almost double that of other similar features. (Geoff)

November 2010 Awesome Crater.

This crater was found by user mercutin and posted in the Crater Questions thread on 4th November 2010. I downloaded the LRO strip containing the crater and extracted the following image. (Geoff)

December 2010 Dark ejecta from Daguerre Crater.

A stunning picture of the dark material spreading out in a ray pattern and also cascading over the crater wall towards the crater floor. (Tom128)

January 2011 South Ray Crater

South Ray crater is about 2 million years old and the Apollo 16 astronauts returned samples from this area for analysis back on Earth. (Geoff)

An image stitched together by Moon Zoo forum member Bunny Burton Bradford

February 2011 Stratified Ejecta Blocks.

Another hunt….and this time it’s stripy! (jules)

Katie Joy from the Moon Zoo team says: We would like you to take a closer look at large boulders in Moon Zoo images. We want people to spot boulders that have layers cutting across the rock.

LROC image

Forum members Half65 and Tom128 found these examples of stratified bouders in Aristarchus.

An example posted by Geoff

March 2011 Tycho.

Appropriately named after one of the most colourful characters in astronomy, Tycho Brahe, Tycho is one of the most prominent craters on the Moon with its large, bright ray system dominating the southern hemisphere. (Jules)

credit NASA

And here’s a close up of the rugged crater floor. (Jules)

April 2011 Potential Caves and Sink Holes in Copernicus Crater.

I came across one good candidate on the floor of Copernicus Crater (JFincannon)

Moon Zoo users have now classified 2,087,029; an area of 48,348 square miles or 206.6 Chigacos within the first year. With more images to come and fresh locations to search, I look forward to another successful year of discovery and learning as we reveal more of our closest neighbour.


Have fun and happy hunting.

Moon Zoo Forum

Additional  news links:

Moon Zoo featured on BBC (at18:20 min)
From NASA JPL, Moon Zoo Telecon
From Scientific American
From news.cnet.com

Thomas J is a volunteer moderator for the Moon Zoo forum.

Mysterious Craters

Forum member jaroslavp was presented with this Moon Zoo image a few weeks ago:

ID: AMZ1001i8l (Nr Apollonius on the edge of Mare Spumans / Mare Fecunditatis)
Latitude: 3.71611°
Longitude: 56.6751°

Intrigued by the elongated shape of the crater he went on to investigate and what he found posed us all with an interesting crater conundrum. jaroslavp commented that the marked crater looked very different under different solar illumination. In one image it looks like any other round crater. In the other it looks very elongated and is surrounded by bright material.

NAC image: M111219210LE Incidence angle 35.13
NAC image: M119482862RE Incidence angle 57.64

Moon Zoo Team Science member astrostu was impressed and thought this was an excellent example to use to highlight the effect that different angles of solar illumination can produce.

jaroslavp wondered if the round crater was actually new, maybe a recent meteorite impact: He said:

“Maybe the crater wasnt there before? When I look on the dark spot there is no sign of the crater we can see on the second picture. And maybe the sun 45° from the surface makes many things invisible that you can see on the dark picture for example fresh white and dark-haloed craters.”

After some forum discussion it became clear that this really is just the result of viewing the same crater under different illumination but it certainly got us thinking and it is the best example yet we have had on the forum of just what a difference lighting can make as this animation jaroslavp put together shows:

Now on a roll, jaroslavp then found another strange crater containing a chain of 4 smaller craters and noticed something on the right hand slope of the crater wall:

ID: AMZ10018h5 (Taurus Mountains region)
Latitude: 20.8721°
Longitude: 30.8742°

NAC image: M106676354LE
NAC image: M104318871RE

So – is the small chain of secondary craters overlying the featured crater from a different crater impact or from the same impact that created the host crater?

Every day something intriguing is posted on the forum. It’s a great place to discover the Moon!

Jules is a volunteer moderator for the Moon Zoo forum

Merry Christmas Moon Zoo!

to everyone involved in the Moon Zoo project!

On top of the Christmas tree is the snowman from Apollo 12. The other images are some of the lunar “snowscapes” that have been posted on the forum including Santa’s Christmas stocking (from Aristarchus.)

Since Moon Zoo launched back in May we have spent 7 months measuring craters, comparing boulders, posting stunning images, finding the unusual and unexpected and chatting about anything and everything. A real community has developed on the Moon Zoo forum and I hope more people will join us there in the New Year.

Forum member Tom128’s Moon Zoo word cloud spaceship courtesy of wordle.net gives a flavour of some of the forum topics.

So wherever you are and however you will be spending the Christmas holidays try to find a few spare moments to go outside and look up at the Moon. There will be a total lunar eclipse on the 21 December visible to many of us followed by a photogenic waning Moon over the following few days. And spare a thought for the Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter spacecraft as it carries on doing its job so that we can carry on doing ours.

And don’t forget the Zooniverse Advent Calendar for some more astronomical tricks and treats from the Zooniverse team.

Jules is a volunteer moderator for the Moon Zoo forum

Looking for Change: Crater Matching Apollo 15 versus LROC

Apollo 15 Image                                                                     LROC Image

Apollo lunar missions 15 – 17  carried onboard the orbiting command service module a sophisticated array of camera systems used for mapping the lunar surface from orbit.

Apollo 15 and Apollo 16 system arrangement

While reading, “APOLLO OVER THE MOON: A VIEW FROM ORBIT (NASA SP-362)” on page 123, I found a crater similar to an example Forum moderator Geoff posted for our Transient Lunar Phenomena (TLP) thread on Boulder Repellent.

AS15-9287 Panoramic (P) High Resolution  Click here for full image.

Lunar Atlas of Panoramic Camera Photographs and Image Catalog

The interesting name was given to this type of crater because of the open space in its center marked by a ring of boulders. To date we have not come across an example as good as the one posted on the TLP thread until now-  22.5° N / 34° E” in the Taurus mountains. With help from Forum moderater Jules and  Astrostu the Apollo 15 crater was tracked down on a LROC M126704350RE photo strip with a tantalizing partial view of the crater.  Jules was especially helpful in moving this project forward.

When a LROC photo strip is made showing the entire crater we hope to do a comparison of the crater center looking for change between the two versions as well as surveying craters and boulders in the surrounding area.  You are all invited to participate in the fun. Though not the superior resolution of LROC, the high resolution Apollo 15 version is very impressive.  Once you begin comparing the two versions of the crater, details in the Apollo 15 photograph begin to appear more clearly and you can see the details as smaller patterns but noticeable.  Downloading the Apollo 15 version and magnifying it with your photo viewer is a big help.  Also enhancing the photograph using a free online photo editing tool such as Sumo Paint allows one to modify the photograph with warmer colors (tan) to enhance boulders and craters.

Below is an example of an enhancement of the Apollo 15 crater center.  The annotated lines were made on Sumo Paint. The photograph resizing and hosting were performed at Photobucket. So, I moved the photograph back and forth as it was modified. The arrow points toward the large boulder on the crater rim (not shown).  The white radial lines move out from the approximate center touching boulders and areas closest in to give one perspective.  I also marked the circumference of the open center area. The red lines are possible alternative routes.

Visit the MZ Forum thread, “Crater matching – Apollo 15 v LROC” for more information on this project and how it evolved.  You can also participate in the investigation of two recently added Apollo 16 versus LROC photographs.

Tom128 is a regular contributor to the Moon Zoo Forum.

Lunar Gullies – slip sliding away….

Running water on Earth carves into soils causing gullies. These are particularly well seen on hillsides and steep slopes, often resembling ditches and small valleys. Similar features have been spotted on photographs of Mars (Fig. 1), but there is much scientific debate about whether such gullies are caused by running water, periodic release of snow or underground ice or frozen carbon dioxide or if they are formed in slope or debris collapses that do not have to involved water at all (e.g. landslides).

gullies on mars gullies on mars2

Fig. 1. Gullies on Mars.

In both cases the start of the gully is at the top of the image and material has flowed towards the bottom of the image. LEFT: Gullies in Nirgal Vallis. MGS MOC Release No. MOC2-535.This is a Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) narrow angle image of gullies carved into debris on the south-facing wall of Nirgal Vallis, an ancient martian valley.  Scaled image  width: ~3 km. RIGHT: MOC image S09-01005. Crater Wall in Noachis Terra. Scaled image  width: ~1 km. Here the gullies are well developed with deep upper cut regions and fan like debris deposits at the bottom of the slope.

In 2006 Gwen Bart, a US planetary scientist searched through available images of the Moon that were collected by 1960’s Lunar Orbiter mission to see if she could find examples of gullies on the Moon. She suggested that if gullies could be seen on the slopes of lunar craters, and as the Moon typically has very very little water, it may provide evidence that gullies on Mars don’t have to have formed in the presence of water or ice. Her preliminary results are presented here and there is a nice summary of the implications of her study here.

As Moon Zoo users well know – the new images by the LRO LROC NAC are knocking the spots off the older Moon photos! For example, now we have these amazing new NAC images they are showing that gullies really are found all over the Moon…

gambert c montage

Montage of LROC NAC image M127009259 (not map projected) showing view of Gambert C crater which is located on the nearside of the Moon near Copernicus crater.

gambertc 1 gambertc 2 gambertc 3

Close up images of gullies in Gambert C crater shown in wider view above. Several gully networks can be seen in each image. In all cases the source of the gullies is at the top of the image and they flow down towards the base on the image. Flows and gullies show lobate tracks and channels, often with blocky rubble material having been pushed to the sides and end of the main channel.

bright gully 1 bright gully 2

Left: Montage of LROC NAC image M105185599E (not map projected) and close up section shown at right. Bright, elongate gully tracks can been seen in the photo eminating from bright rubbley regions on the crater wall. The gullies start in the bottom left hand corner and flowed towards the top right.

See also the dramatic examples in Marius crater and look at the wide view of the area.

And Moon Zoo users have already done a great job in spotting some really nice examples of landslides, gullies and channels on slopes. Check out the examples in Birt crater, Proclus crater  and in other places on the Moon here and here.

So – we would like to issue a renewed challenge to keep a close eye out for gullies and landslides on the Moon. Hopefully your discoveries will help to provide a good database that scientists can use to address the diversity, shape and form of gullies on the Moon compared with those seen on Mars, the Earth and other planets.

Please remember, as well as posting examples on the Moon Zoo Forum under the landslides and gullies topic, if you find examples in the Moon Zoo user interface to flag these features as linear features so that we also have a record noted in our database!

Thanks for your help,

Moon Zoo Team

(Thanks to Allan Treiman and Amanda Nahm at LPI for drawing our attention to this interesting lunar science and Martian science topic).

The Mystery at Milichius-A Crater

It started off as a normal enough Friday. I checked the Moon Zoo forum and did a little Boulder Wars. Then I received a PM from new forum member Astrospade with a link to a rather interesting picture s/he had found. I went to have a look and as the afternoon quietly slid towards the weekend the Moon Zoo community suddenly sprang into action.

Astrospade had noticed something interesting on a NAC image featured on the NASA mission site. The object in question is on NAC strip M102365048LE just to the right of Milichius A crater and it looked for all the world like a space probe.

This is the site Astrospade looked at with no mention of the “probe” in the main text. A couple of comments below the article are from people who had spotted the same feature but no-one got back to them and the comments feature now appear to be closed. Astrospade had also contacted the coordinator for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter site but got no response.

I was intrigued enough to have a closer look. The blue rectangle on the small reference strip shows the position of the object.

An arrow points to a long thin shadow appearing to come from a tall structure next to a small white topped feature better seen in the enlarged section in the inset. With an incidence angle of 76.02 degrees all the surface features will cast very long shadows anyway but this particular long thin shadow looked different, very antenna-like and the white topped feature didn’t look very much like a rock! Unfortunately there are no further NAC images under different illumination to shed more light on the mystery ( :) ) and my observation request was denied as a similar request had already been submitted.

Milichius A is 10 degrees North and 30.2 West in Oceanus Procellarum region – just west of Kepler Crater.

The only thing we could find that came close was Luna 7 which crashed at 9.8°N 47.8°W. The difference in longitude amounts to around 546km. Was this too far for Luna 7 to scatter, bounce or spread? Could it even have broken up when hurtling towards the lunar surface with bits landing relatively softly away from the main crash site? Could the white object in the NAC image be the remains of the basket-like end of the Luna probe rather than a photographic artefact?

Luna 7

Tom 128 took up the story and found this quote from Soviet and Russian Lunar Exploration by Brian Harvey:

” On the third day, two hours before landing and 8,500 km out, the Luna 7 oriented itself for landing. Unlike Luna 5, it was on course for its intended landing area near the crater Kepler in the Ocean of Storms. As it did so, the sensors lost their lock on Earth and, without a confirmed sensor lock, the engine could not fire. This was the second time, after Luna 4, that the astro-navigation system had failed. Ground controllers watched helplessly as Luna 7 crashed at great speed.”

Perhaps we should have heeded those last words “…..crashed at great speed.”

Tom128 also enhanced the image further. He said “My thought is that what we now see is the craft/wreckage with main body upside down and this rod pointing upward.”


Members of the Moon Zoo team initially thought it worthy of a closer look but then the Voices of Reason stepped in. Chris Lintott reminded us that our object was at the wrong western longitude to be Luna 7 and Phil Stooke champion of locating spacecraft debris on LRO images advised that although the shadow did look unusual it was likely to be nothing more than the type of linear shadow he had seen many times before of an appropriately placed and shaped rock near the terminator. And he quite rightly stressed that it is known that Luna 7 crashed which means we shoud be looking out for a small crater rather than spacecraft debris.

So were we just seeing what we wanted to see or is there really something there? Another view with overhead illumination would certainly help. But until then the speculation will continue. The full forum thread is here.

Jules is a volunteer moderator for the Moon Zoo Forum.

International Observe the Moon Night Challenges

To celebrate the very first International Observe the Moon Night on 18 September 2010 Moon Zoo set 2 challenges. Zookeeper Rob blogged about one challenge which involved the launch of the Moonometer.TM Between September 15th and 19th the Moon Zoo community were challenged to classify 20,000 images, a vast area of the Moon equivalent to 2 Chicagos.

This proved to be easy and we blasted through the target within 48 hours! The stakes were upped to 40,000 images (or 40 Manhattans.) Again the Moon Zooites rose to the challenge and 24 hours later the second target was smashed and a third and final target of 60,000 images was set (that’s equivalent to 10,596 Disneylands!) 24 hours and 60,000 images later the Moon Zoo Community had reason to be proud.

We celebrated International Observe the Moon Night in style – inside, warm and cosy looking at images of the Moon in unprecedented detail while (for some of us, at least) the clouds descended, the winds howled and the rain fell preventing any real time observations.

And the good news is that the MoonometerTM is here to stay!

The second challenge was a photographic one. Not the easiest challenge given the inclement weather in some areas but nevertheless we rose to the challenge and this is the result – a mixture of daytime, night time, arty and abstract Moons:

There’s a couple of mine in there and big thanks go to fellow contributors PaddyD, Tom128, astrostu, Geoff and Caro (of Moon Gallery fame).
Caro based her 2 abstracts on the Ina feature.

We now have a permanent lunar imaging thread on the forum to complement the Moon Gallery.

Thanks everyone! :)

Jules is a volunteer moderator for the Moon Zoo Forum.

Lunar Treasure! There be gold in them there craters…..

Time for a bit of light relief. 🙂

While looking for sinuous rilles, lava tube skylights, grabens and bits of discarded spacecraft, and in between counting boulders and measuring craters, forum members have also found several possible treasure hoards obviously left by previous visitors to the Moon……

You might be fooled into thinking that these crosses are not the mark of Lunar Pirates at all but that they have been caused by the forces of Lunar geological processes. Maybe the stresses involved in crater formation on boulders landing heavily after being flung out over hundreds of metres just happened to cause them to crack by chance to form an “X.” Or you might suggest that the LRO camera took the image when the angle of the Sun was just right to catch a rocky rim and cast an “X” shaped shadow across the crater floor. You might even surmise that the albedo of the Lunar regolith just happens to resemble an “X” when viewed in a certain light.

But you would be wrong! We know different!

There’s treasure to be had, they obviously didn’t cover their tracks very well and we are on to them!

We are keeping the coordinates to ourselves but can you see where “X” marks the spot in these images?

Lunar Gold!

Pieces of Eight!



So me hearties, come help us hunt for Lunar gold (and measure craters and count boulders too)! Sign up here. Bottle of best Lunar rum for the first to bring the treasure back!

Jules is a volunteer moderator for the Moon Zoo Forum.