The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

Watch the Moon Get Whacked Courtesy of Slooh

This Friday morning, October 9th, at 4:30am PDT, the Moon is going to take a hit for science.  The LCROSS mission (Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite) will impact a crater near the Moon’s south pole.

There will be two impacts.  The first one (which is the upper stage of the rocket that sent the mission on its way) will impact first and kick up a bunch of dust and debris.  A few minutes later, the second spacecraft, known at the Shepherding Spacecraft, will fly through the debris with a suite of sensors before it crashes into the Moon as well.  Although we stand to learn a lot about the composition of the Moon from this, the real goal is to find water (the Apollo missions landed near the equator so they couldn’t do this when they were there).

You might be able to see this with a small telescope.  I am going to be out with an 11 inch telescope and video camera optimized for astronomical recording to try and get it (well, I hope to…its a brand new scope that has not been tested or even put together yet…I know you are supposed to practice in advance and all that but we just got the scope and timing requires that the first test is live!)  If I get anything interesting, I will post it here.

If you don’t have a telescope, the good folks at Slooh will give you a chance to watch online.  Slooh is a network of remote telescopes that you can watch as they take data live.  Most of the time you have to pay to do this (a yearlong membership is a very reasonable $50…they have a telescope in the Canary Islands which is ideal for early evening observing in the entire U.S.).  For this event, they are using a telescope in New Hampshire and one in Arizona to webcast the event.  You can watch the webcast here.

So set your alarms early for Friday morning to catch this unique event.

October 6, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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