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Practical Astronomy

OCT-DEC 2011

ATM Telescope Making Comet Imaging Lunar Mascons

P ractical A stronomy OCT-DEC 2011 ATM Telescope Making Comet Imaging Lunar Mascons

Practical Astronomy

In this issue

3

DIY TELESCOPE The Birth Of Longdrop

6

COMET GARRADD Capturing A Time Lapse

8

SOLAR FLARE M-Class Magnitude 9.3

9

MASCONS Masterpieces Of Complexity

15

AN APPEAL FOR HELP From Southern India

16

READERS IMAGES

18

SKY VIEW October To December 2011

26

OBSERVERS DELIGHTS October To December 2011

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Oct-Dec 2011

First Light

Welcome to

the fourth

quarter 2011

issue of

Practical

Astronomy

We have a varied collection of articles and images this month, including an ATM/DIY project and an interesting detailed article on the structure of the Moon.

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Cover design: Pixeljuice snc Cover image: Johan Smit, (his ATM telescope “Longdrop”)

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Practical Astronomy Oct-Dec 2011 Practical Astronomy magazine is published quarterly online . ISSN 2042-2687 Editor:
Practical Astronomy
Oct-Dec 2011
Practical Astronomy magazine is published quarterly
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DIY Telescope: The Birth Of Longdrop

In 2010 a good friend, mentor and fellow

telescope maker, Louis Barendse passed away.

I and some colleagues from our telescope

making class helped his widow sort out his telescope making stuff. As any serious ATM ʼ er know, that was a major exercise, because we tend to collect stuff, just because we can and one day it could possibly be used in a telescope.

Well, we did the task and when we were finished went through the workshop one last time and found a mirror in a cell on the top of some shelves. I eventually purchased the mirror. When I tested it, I found that it was a 10” F9 mirror. And on the Foucault test it seems quite reasonable. Smooth with just a hint of correction, as can be expected of such a slow mirror. Now I had a mirror and an idea started brewing in my head. The mirror that was hidden for an unknown number of years just had to see starlight. So, in memory of Louis Barendse I set about making a telescope.

I soon realised that it will be a very tall

telescope and a truss assembly was required. Fortunately the mirror cell was heavy. Solid Ω inch thick steel plate, so weight at the bottom end was a given. I had some 18mm pine shelving plank. Another friend of mine donated some 10mm plywood from old packing crates. So, wood I had in abundance. The mirror box was made out of the shelving plank. It turned out nearly square with a height of about 500mm. Because I had to fit the original cell at the back, the box was made much larger than normal. This turned favourable in the end. I had enough space for mounting the trusses and the scope gained some stability. The top end was made out of 10mm plywood. It was also generously proportioned and can stack on top of the mirror box. Due to the generous proportions of the two main components stray light is well controlled and a skirt is not needed. The two boxes were strapped to my ladder and the whole assembly was manoeuvred to achieve focus on some distant buildings. That

By Johan Smit, SA

enabled me to determine the exact truss lengths that would be needed.

to determine the exact truss lengths that would be needed. The shape of the mirror box

The shape of the mirror box resembles a pit toilet seat and the resemblance was promptly noted by my colleagues. Such an article is called a long-drop in South Africa slang. And the telescope got a name.

in South Africa slang. And the telescope got a name. I am a poor metal worker,

I am a poor metal worker, stingy and lazy. Buying aluminium and making pole mounting and joining mechanisms were not considered as a viable option. And I had an abundance of light plywood. So I decided to make triangles to act as trusses. Some time with my trusty jigsaw and I had workable wooded trusses. The bottom wide section is fastened with wing-nuts on to glued in bolts to the inside of the mirror box. The top end sits on little shelves that also have glued in bolts and wing-nuts again served to fasten the lot. As luck would have it, the balance point ended just about at the top of the mirror box. So a fairly standard rocker box and ground board was made. The cut-outs for the mirror box top

DIY Telescope: The Birth Of Longdrop (cont)

DIY Telescope: The Birth Of Longdrop (cont) and bottom did service as side bearings. 200mm PVC

and bottom did service as side bearings. 200mm PVC sewerage pipe sections were cut open and stretched around the bearing to provide a smooth surface. Longdrop stood tall and proud for the first time.

surface. Longdrop stood tall and proud for the first time. By Johan Smit, SA That same
surface. Longdrop stood tall and proud for the first time. By Johan Smit, SA That same

By Johan Smit, SA

That same evening saw first light on the stars. Despite much stray light (no light shields fitted yet) it performed better than my wildest dreams.

fitted yet) it performed better than my wildest dreams. Rigel and its companion was cleanly split,

Rigel and its companion was cleanly split, and some other favourites (the jewel box and M42) show that I have a good working scope. Then came the part that I dislike the most. Painting. My son recommended that we paint it red. So we settled on a signal red and matt black colour scheme. It was stripped and two layers of undercoat and several layers of topcoat were applied. The inside of the top cage was lined with black cardboard and we have a scope that looks as impressive as it performs. In the meantime it has seen service at our national Karoo star party in Britstown and was exhibited at Scope-X where it was awarded a prize for the unconventional truss assembly. It was also used at every other viewing opportunity that I could attend and everyone was equally impressed at the views that it provided. Pros and Cons:

The whole assembly works better than I imagined. It is stable. It does not vibrate. And any vibrations dampen out very quickly. And what amazed me most is that it stays in collimation. After a few thousand kilometres of travel and many assembly/disassembly cycles I hardly ever had to tweak collimation. It just come together perfect every time. It does take time to fasten 12 wing-nuts, but from start to looking takes 10 minutes, so it is quite feasible and the simplicity in making the

DIY Telescope: The Birth Of Longdrop (cont)

scope and the stability makes up for the effort in assembly. Movements were not as smooth as I wished for, so a few tweaks were done and now it is an absolute pleasure to control. The altitude bearing surface was changed to Teflon (cheap furniture sliders).

surface was changed to Teflon (cheap furniture sliders). To improve the Azimuth movement a flat steel

To improve the Azimuth movement a flat steel ring (38mm x 3mm flat bar) was added to the bottom of the mirror box. I forced the steel around the ring and welded the ends together. This runs in V-groove pulleys that sit directly on the ground spaced at 120 degrees. That made the movement too smooth, but the addition of a folded up face towel between the ground board and the rocker box provides just the right amount of friction. The finder scope system is still clunky. I am in the process of improving it and soon Longdrop will be perfect.

By Johan Smit, SA

it and soon Longdrop will be perfect. By Johan Smit, SA Conclusion Using the scope I

Conclusion Using the scope I found another reason for its name. If you lose your balance on the ladder, it is a long drop to the ground. So, if you find the original origin too vulgar you can use this one. If you consider making a truss tube telescope, I can recommend going this route. It is simple to make with the minimum of tools and is as stable as anything else I have seen.

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Comet Garradd: Capturing A Time Lapse

By Bi ! Pearce, USA

First of all, I'm just an Amateur "seat of the pants" Astronomer. Nothing I use is the absolute best (is there, really?), but I get the most out of what I have. I've settled on a 110mm ED APO Refractor, and

a Celestron C9.25 SCT. I do most of my Astrophotography with

a unmodified Canon

500D DSLR using the Canon capture software that came with the camera. I use a pillar mounted Celestron CGEM, Orion Starshoot Autoguider, and Voyager 4.5 software for advanced object location and telescope control. On cold nights here in Ohio, USA, I use VNC server on the Windows PC in the Observatory, and the VNC for Macintosh client to remote control it all from inside the nice and warm house. The good thing about the Canon 500D, is that it will take it's own "dark frames" for exposures taken using the "bulb" setting. So now that you know what I'm using, here's how I set out to take a time lapse of Comet Garrad this past August. First, I mounted the Celestron C9.25 on the CGEM along with the Orion Guide Scope, 500D, Celestron f6.3 focal reducer/corrector, and balanced it all during the late afternoon, so I wouldn't have to mess with it in the dark. I also made all the cable connections, etc. so I would be ready to go. When it finally became dark enough, I started out with aligning the CGEM with a two star alignment and four calibration stars. Next, I had the scope slew to Vega, and turned on the Canon 500D. Using the Canon capture software, I opened the "Live View" window, and got a sharp focus on Vega, then centered it in the field of view.

sharp focus on Vega, then centered it in the field of view. I then synced the

I then synced the CGEM mount to Vega using

the CGEM hand controller. To this point, we are all focused and aligned with Vega.

I started up Voyager 4.5 and downloaded the

latest comet file to make sure all the coordinates were up to date. I then connected to the telescope mount using Voyager's "Telescope Control" option, which synchronized with Vega. I then told the software to slew the telescope to comet Garradd. Using the Canon software, I set the ISO rating to "high", and took a 15 second exposure to check the centering of Comet Garradd. I then started PHD Guiding and connected to the Autoguider, found a suitable star, and let it go through the calibration routine. I took another high ISO 10 second image to note the Comet's centering in the image field, and if necessary, used the starfield in the PHD window to make centering corrections (with guiding turned off of course!) using the CGEM handbox with the guide rate set to 2. Once I was happy with the centering (verified by a few more short exposures), I found a bright guide star in the PHD window, and turned the guiding back on. Since I had already

Comet Garradd: Capturing A Time Lapse (cont.)

done the guide calibration, I was all set, and ready to go.

I next changed the ISO setting on the camera

to 1600, and took a one minute test exposure to verify tracking and centering. The one minute exposure looked good, so I took a few more images at different times, settling on the two minute exposure as the best for this particular night. Keeping in mind that the Canon 500D takes an equal time dark frame for each long exposure image, I set the time lapse to 10 minutes to give it sufficient time for processing. I then set the number of exposures to thirty. I stayed outside with the equipment for the first two images, and went inside to remote control it all using VNC.

At 7:30 U.T. (3:30 AM here in Ohio) I called it quits because in another hour and a half or so, it would start getting light. I parked the scope in "Hibernate" mode, transferred my images, rolled the roof on, and headed to the sack. When I was ready, I transferred the images to Photoshop Lightroom and created a Preset to correct the images in batch mode.

I then exported the images to a new folder, and

imported them into Adobe Image Ready. In Image Ready, I made minor corrections, and exported the sequence as a Flash Movie. Next, I opened up the Flash Movie in Flash Professional, fine tuned it again, and exported it again as a Quicktime Movie. I exported it to Quicktime, because Quicktime uses less overhead, has better internet streaming, and works on every platform, especially an iPhone. For this image, I used Quicktime to export three images, equal time apart, into Photoshop. In Photoshop, I created a new image, and imported the three images as separate layers. I then adjusted the three images for opacity, and flattened the final image. I then added the text, and saved the completed image in JPEG format.

By Bi ! Pearce, USA

Everyone is not the same, and we all have a method to our madness. I hope I have not made this seem over-complicated, it's really not that hard, but a matter of procedure and workflow.

My initial goal was to make the Movie of Comet Garradd which can be viewed by clicking the following link:

The image here is taken from the same movie.

Remember, you don't need the "Best Of The Best" to do really nice Astro-Photography, just take a little time and patience to get the best out of what you have to work with. Once you get a good system and workflow that works for you, stick to it. As a side note, I always use the above mentioned alignment routine unless waking the mount up from the Hibernate mode. I always re-calibrate the Autoguider in PHD with every new target I image, no matter how good the mount alignment is.

Happy Imaging, Bill Pearce, Canfield, Ohio, USA bill@neoimagers.com

Solar Flare: M-Class magnitude 9.3 - 8 Aug 2011

By Whitham D. Reev e

M-Class magnitude 9.3 - 8 Aug 2011 By Whitham D. Reev e The M9.3 flare was

The M9.3 flare was detected at 03:54 UT on 8th August 2011 with spectral indications from 150 to over 800 MHz. The attached spectrogram shows time on the horizontal scale and frequency (descending) on the vertical scale. The color indicates the intensity of each time/frequency pixel where blue/black is low (cold) and yellow/red is high (hot).

The detection was by my e-CALLISTO solar spectrometer at Reeve Observatory in Anchorage, Alaska USA. The spectrometer consists of a receiver and log periodic antenna. The antenna tracks the Sun from sunrise to sunset. More information on the e-CALLISTO as well as additional spectrograms can be found here:

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Mascons: Masterpieces Of Complexity

1. Introduction

Since the 1950's knowledge of our Moon's gravitational field has grown, leading to some significant discoveries. Of the most intriguing is that of gravitational anomalies referred to as high-density mass concentrations or mascons. Research conducted on both the near and farside has produced a great deal of data on how these enigmatic and complex anomalies formed and their effects on the Moon's gravitational field. In recent years, our ability to understand the anomalies has greatly improved with the use of technological advancements such as multiple synchronous satellites, imaging techniques and Doppler. It is true that our knowledge has steadily grown about mascons, but all this gain has been from a distance. A thorough understanding will most likely not happen until the long awaited time arrives that we are able to move about the Moon again and conduct rigorous research first hand. The information presented is for those with varied levels of interest in the Moon and is not intended to be exhaustive or definitive in coverage. The references can provide a basis for anyone wishing to pursue in-depth readings.

2. Gravitational Anomalies

Investigations and predictions by H.C. Urey, starting as early as the 1950's, were revealing

the possibility that some sort of gravitational anomalies may exist within the dark maria on the Moon (Urey, 1956). A decade later, in 1966, the Russian Luna 10 Orbiter while circling the Moon confirmed these predictions by detecting anomalies generating from some of the maria

(Christy, 2010).

data was showing that something definitely was going on over the maria. Then by the mid 1960's, enough data was being accumulated about the Moon's gravitational anomalies that an acceptable theory about what the anomalies were and how they were formed was near. In the spring of 1968, after extensive research and continued data coming from the Orbiter 5 satellite, P.M. Muller and W.L. Sjogren felt certain enough to

The growing accumulation of

By Ron Brooks, Ed.D.

describe the geological formations that produced the gravitational anomalies and

assign the name mascon(s); short for mass

concentrations (Muller & Sjogren, 1968).

benchmark of insight set the stage for more intensive on-going research. Muller and Sjogren received credit in the spring of 1968 for the discovery of these (high-density) mass concentrations. Both received the Magellanic Medals by the American Philosophical Society in 1971 for their discovery.

Mascon Formation All impact basins and mascons exhibit unique geology and structures, especially those found on the farside. However, all mascons still share a common geological history. During early research, it was suggested that mascons might have been caused by collisions with heavy bodies of nickel and iron. However, this was dismissed as not credible and is now fundamentally believed to be the results of huge impacts on the Moon's surface. In a short sequence, an impact would have instantly created an excavation basin. Simultaneously, the force would have broken through the Moon's crust and fractured the Moon's mantle. This colossal force not only produced the traumatic fracturing but also an impact rebound that triggered the uplifting of the mantle bringing it to or close to the surface. The uplifted mantle, after some degree of compensation, would become frozen in a static state. In most cases, after a passage of time lava flows would fill the impact basin. Together, the iron rich mantle uplift and lava flows would create the mascon. The above sequence is rather simplistic, but it serves as a basic framework in which a more comprehensive understanding can be developed.

More Ideas Regarding Mascon Formation In the early 1970's, Muller and Sjogren theorized that mantle uplifting after an impact produced near surface mass shaped disks (not to be thought of as necessarily circular). They found that the midpoint of the disks emanated the strongest positive gravitational anomalies while the outer edges produced a negative gravitational anomaly (Muller & Sjorgren, 1972).

This

Mascons: Masterpieces Of Complexity (cont.)

In contrast to the nearside gravitational configuration found by Muller and Sjogren, Namiki et al., after studying Doppler measurements from the SELENE satellite mission in 2009, found that farside mascons seemingly emanate positive and negative gravitational anomalies in alternating concentric rings (Namiki, et al., 2009a).

Regardless of the gravitational configurations, the uplifted mantle structures from the impacts seemed to defy the principle of isotactic compensation and once lifted remained in a static state. However, this static state may not have been achieved immediately following the uplifting. S.C. Solomon and R.P. Comer believed from their research that the topographic relief of a newly formed basin was at least 50 to 60% compensated (a seeking for equilibrium with the regional topography) by crustal thickness and temperature variations prior to any lava flows beginning. Mare Tranquillitatis on the nearside was used as an example of demonstrating significant compensation prior to any lava emplacement while the South Pole-Aitken basin on the farside was used as an example of not exhibiting any significant viscous relaxation (Solomon & Comer, 1982). The Moon's lithosphere apparently solidified at various stages of compensation for each discrete impact basin. In a summary rendering, it seems probable that any discrete mascon was not ‘frozen’ immediately but at some point in its stage of isostatic compensation. Temperature variations or the thermal conditions below the impact basins were a major factor in solidification. After researching data about the viscosity of the Moon's interior, J. Arkani-Hamad concluded that there have been no thermal convection currents inside the upper 800km of the Moon since the formation of the mascons or about 3 billion years (Arkani-

Hamad, (1973).

data about the Moon's internal thermal state seems to confirm that the Moon's crust was already ridged and the interior temperatures were cooling soon after the Moon's molten state (most agree it had one) which leads to a relative rapid (in geological time) solidification.

This conclusion and other

By Ron Brooks, Ed.D.

Even with isostatic compensation occurring, the crustal rigidity and lower interior temperatures seemed enough to stop the compensation and hold the mantle up sufficiently to help generate a mascon.

3. Basin Lava Flows As stated earlier, the impact of fracturing set the forces in motion causing not only the basin uplifting of the mantle but also allowing an iron enriched lava to spew into the impact basin. However, it seems generally accepted that lava flows did not happen immediately after impact, and the basin uplifts where frozen in a superisostatic state long before the lava flows started (Neumann et al., 1996). It is possible that impact basins and their uplifted mantel formations may have lain dry for about 100-500 million years before flows began (Shoemaker, 1964; Baldwin, 1970). After the flows began, they repeatedly moved through the basin fractures, one over the other in varying degrees for over a billion years (Ronca, 1972). It is interesting to note that L.B. Ronca asserted the idea that some of the later flows were ìtongue shapedî indicating that later lava flows did not come from fractures below the impact basin but from fractures in the circumferential region around the basin (Ronca, 1973). This would indicate that some of the final flows were emanating from hot places likely beneath the surrounding highlands. This idea of the transfer of mass (lava) from the highlands to the impact basin is further support by Arkani-Hamad (1973b). He presented the idea that a laterally heterogeneous thermal regime developed in the Moon's interior after the impact. This development seemed to result in the following possible events. The thermo regime created a lithosphere that supported both the formed basin mascon and the highlands surrounding it. It also induced the fast cooling of the region beneath the lava emplaced basins and in reverse caused the remelting (on a slower scale) of the base below the surrounding highlands. The mass of the highlands and the additional weight and pressure brought on by the thick insulating ejecta blanket on the highlands surrounding the basin augmented the base remelting. The result of the remelting was

Mascons: Masterpieces Of Complexity (cont.)

By Ron Brooks, Ed.D.

an amassed collection of viscous material. These dynamic events produced high stress fractures in the highland lithosphere lying between the forming viscous material and the upper levels of the highland surface. The stress fractures became the conduits for the transfer of the viscous mass (lava) from beneath the highlands into the basin. These events are complex but do eliminate any exclusivity to the concept that the basin lava flows emanated strictly from fractures beneath the impact basin. The Japanese SELENE mission revealed yet another interesting dimension to the lava flows. Mare Serenitatis was found to have a regolith coating layered between subsequent lava flows. This helps to validate that enough time elapsed between flows to build up (sandwich like) stratification (Ono , 2009). It would seem very likely that most maria would have this regolith stratification.

4. Volcanism

Moon volcanism, such as the

large basaltic lava flows in Oceanus

Procellarum, has not produced the discovery of any significant gravitational anomalies. This finding has eliminated volcanism alone as a serious contender as a cause of mascons. There are also mascons on the Moon's farside that have limited if any emplaced lava flows. This seems to confirm that uplifting of the mantle alone may be sufficient enough to

produce a mascon.

uplifting and lava emplacements contribute to mascon formation collectively or that uplifting alone can create a mascon discretely.

5. Where are the Mascons?

Of the five major nearside maria containing detected mascons, Mare Imbrium is the highest density site followed by Maria Serenitatis, Crisium, Nectaris and Humorium. (See the Gravitational Map Figure 1). A moderate

density mass concentration lies between Sinus Aestuum and Sinus Medii that is probably an ancient ringed mare. Mascons are found in Mare Orientale which wraps itself around the far western limb to the farside and the crater Grimaldi (a large walled plane) that lies close to the western limb. More mascons are being identified as research continues. In 2000, A.S. Konopliv presented evidence that about 12 additional mascons existing in impact basins have been discovered on the nearside or close to the limb (Konopliv, et al., 2001).

the nearside or close to the limb (Konopliv, et al., 2001). Figure 1 - Gravitational Map

Figure 1 - Gravitational Map Nearside ( Le % Image From The Galileo Mission, Right Image From Lunar Prospector) - Image Credit: NASA

The 5 large red globule shapes (right gravimetric map) are mascons. The reader can see how the red globules match the maria to the full Moon image on the left. Right Map ñright to left: Mare Crisium, Mare Nectaris, Mare Serenitatis, Mare Imbrium and Mare Humorum. Below (Figure 2) is a gravity map of the near and farsides of the Moon made by the Lunar Prospector spacecraft (Konopliv et al., 1998). The map shows the mascons of the nearside (left) as shown in Figure 1 and the mascon formations on the farside (right). The red globules show the intensity of the gravitational anomalies. The reader can see the intensity variance of the mascons on the two sides of the Moon.

As it appears, mantle

Mascons: Masterpieces Of Complexity (cont.)

By Ron Brooks, Ed.D.

Masterpieces Of Complexity (cont.) By Ron Brooks, Ed.D. Figure 2 - Gravitational Map - Near and

Figure 2 - Gravitational Map - Near and Farside ( Le % - Near Side, Right - Far Side ) - Image Credit: NASA

The gravimetric maps above clearly show mascon locations. The intensities are also shown and contrasted between the near and farsides.

6. Differences - Near and Farside It is obvious in Figure 2, that the nearside mascon basins are much more predominate and appear geologically different from the farside. It has not been clearly established why this has happened. However, it is probably linked to several unique geological differences that have existed between the near and farside. The nearside has a thinner crust placing the mantle closer to the surface. Sjogren believes the crust difference on the farside is close to an additional 33 km. (Sjogren, 1977). This difference would make the lithosphere much more rigid on the farside. However, this is not to say that the crust depth is the main or only contributor to the maria differences on the two sides of the Moon. Nor, can we logically say that the nearside just took larger impacts, which resulted in the surface differences. Unraveling the complexities seems problematic. However, a plausible additional theory of differences is the comparatively very high lithosphere temperatures that existed below the nearside basins as compared to the farside. The enduring high temperatures under the nearside basins would have melted the lower crust and upper mantle boundaries into a

viscous material. This viscous layer allowed a prolonged basin/maria deformation that continued even after the final lava emplacements. (Most likely, the ridges and rills found in the nearside maria are validation of this deformation.) The viscous material amassed at the crustal/ mantle boundaries would have also relaxed the upper lithosphere

and would have contributed to the sea like appearances of the nearside lava emplaced basins. The actual crustal and mantle boundaries' temperatures for the nearside were in excess of 1000K, whereas the crustal/mantle boundary for the farside was less than 800K, which would be sufficient to produce the lower crust and upper mantle melting (Namiki, 2009b). The differences in the thermal evolution of the lithosphere and the crustal variances would contribute greatly to the near and farside impact basin differences. Namiki, et al. developed the map (Fig.3) below that demonstrates some of these geological basin differences (Namiki, 2009c). Note:

Figure 3 displays the names and locations of major lunar basins/mascons on both the near and farsides. The lunar nearside is on the right side of the figure, and the farside is on the left. The western limb of the Moon viewed from Earth (2700E) is at the center front. Within Figure 3 of the Moon, Namiki, et al. displayed three basin/mascon designations:

(1) Darkly shaded are Type I basins or basins with a sharp gravity peak with excess mass at the center. (2) Hatched shaded basins are Type 2 basins that have broad gravity peaks, generating 200

Mascons: Masterpieces Of Complexity (cont.)

By Ron Brooks, Ed.D.

to 600 less magnitude than Type 1 basins and account for the principal farside mascons. (3) The dashed lined basins are unclassified. The reader can see the clear difference in the types of mascons that formed on the near vs. the farside.

8. Mascons and Exploration The mascons have had dramatic effects during past exploration and will need to be considered in future planning for satellites and manned missions. One example of the effect that mascons can have was clearly demonstrated

of the effect that mascons can have was clearly demonstrated Figure. 3 ' om: Farside Gravity

Figure. 3 ' om: Farside Gravity Field of the Moon ' om Four -Way Doppler Measurements of SELENE ( Kaguya ) Reprinted with Permission ' om AAAS.

during the Apollo 11 mission. In 1969, the Apollo 11 landing module was pulled downrange from its planned landing site by up to 6 kilometers by the mascon Lamont located in the western Mare Tranquillitatis (Dvorak & Phillips, 1979). The module was being pulled off course and over a crater and a field of large car sized boulders. If it were not for the skill of Neil Armstrong who took over the controls of the Lunar Module in the last few minutes of the landing approach, the Apollo 11mission may have ended very differently. This was one of the first dramatic effects of a gravitational anomaly produced by a mascon. During the Apollo 16 mission in 1972, a small subsatellite (PSF-2) was released for a scientific experiment. The satellite was to maintain a low orbit around the Moon. The orbit fluxed widely and the satellite came as close as 6 miles to the Moon's surface and then would return to a safe 30 miles away. After two weeks in orbit, the satellite crashed onto the Moon. The increased gravitational pull of the mascons

Some of the significant mascons on the farside, as shown in Figure 3, are Orientale, Smythii and Mendel-Rydberg which wrap themselves around the far to the nearside. Other significant farside mascons are Hertzsprung, Appollo, Planch, Mendeleev, Moscoviense, Freundlich-Sharanov and Korolev.

7. Do Mascons Exist on

Other Rocky Planets? To this date mascons have been detected on the planet Mars and possibly Mercury (Atkinson, 2008). It seems research is indicating that mascons do not exist on Venus. Peter James of MIT, believes that plate tectonics may be unique to Earth and not a rule for rocky planets. James further believes the absence of mascons is consistent with the idea that the Venus surface experienced some type of catastrophic overturning about 500 million years ago, and it is possible that Venus periodically goes through a ìresurfacingî process. This of course would eliminate any possibility of mascon formation (Bettex, MIT news, 2010). Venus looks as if it has had no plate tectonics and has taken a very different course. On our home planet, mascons have not been discovered. We know that Earth has had continuous plate tectonics. This convulsive crustal movement on Earth has provided for a more homogenous distribution of dense mass materials destroying the possibility of mascon formation.

Mascons: Masterpieces Of Complexity (cont.)

seemed to have been sufficient to alter the orbit and eventually bring down the satellite. Trudy Bell reviews the gravitational effects of mascons in her NASA article, Bizarre Lunar Orbits (Bell, 2006). Bell states that Konopliv believes the Moon to be a gravitationally lump place and sites Konopliv saying:

The anomaly is so great - half a percent - that it actually would be measurable to the astronauts on the lunar surface. If you were standing at the edge of one of the mare, the plumb bob would hang about a third of a degree off vertical, pointing toward the mascon. Moreover, he further states: If an astronaut in full spacesuit and life support gear, whose lunar weight was exactly 50 pounds at the edge of the mascon would weigh 50 pounds and 4 ounces when standing in the mascon's center. With the examples cited above, one can clearly see that mascons can create interesting but somewhat benign effects or forces that can be dramatically perilous and must be accounted for as exploration continues.

9. Conclusion Even with growing knowledge, mascons are still somewhat obscured in mystery. Most scientists agree that the mascons resulted from large impacts on the Moon's surface. The impacts broke through the crust and fractured the iron rich mantle allowing it to uplift. Most likely, the uplifted mantle in the impact basin laid dry for millions of years. Once the lava flows started, they repeated over long periods allowing emplacement of one flow over another with later flows probably emanating from the highlands as demonstrated with Serenitatis. The uplifted mantle and the lava flooding within the basin are probably collective in producing the mascon strength. However, mascons exist with little if any lava flow emplacement. This fact indicates that mantle uplifting may be sufficient to produce gravitational anomalies. The similarities and differences among mascons can be striking. Many of these differences are most dramatic as compared to those found on the near and farsides. Still, further research needs to be done to

By Ron Brooks, Ed.D.

comprehend mascons in all their dimensions regardless of location or geological formation. Some questions about mascons may not be answered until we are able to move about the Moon and conduct the research first hand. Even when that is accomplished, these masterpieces of complexity will still add another dimension in making our Moon a unique and intriguing world.

References Arkani-Hamad, J. (1973a) Viscosity of the moon. The Moon, Lunar Science Institute, Vol. 6, Issue 1-2,

112-124.

Arkani-Hamad, J. (1973b) On the formation of the lunar mascons. Fourth Lunar Science Conference. Vol. 3,

2673-2684.

Atkinson, N., (2008) Gravity anomaly challenges MESSENGER mission, Retrieved from: http://

Baldwin, R. B., (1970) Summary of arguments for a hot moon. Science, Vol. 170, 1297-1300.

Bell, T.E, (2006) Bizarre lunar orbits, Retrieved from:

Bettex M., (2010) MIT news, Retrieved from:

Christy, Robert. (2010) "USSR - Luna". Zarya.info. Retrieved from: http:www.zarya.info/Diaries/Luna10.php Dvorak, J. & Phillips, R.J. (1979) Gravity anomaly and

structure associated with the

moon. Lunar and Planetary Society Conference 10, 2265

-2275.

Konopliv, A.S. , Binder, A. B, Hood, L. L., Kucinskas, A.

B., Sjogren, W.L, & Williams,

Improved gravity field of the moon from Lunar Prospector. Science, New Series Vol. 281, No.5382.

1477.

Konopliv, A.S. Asmar, S.W., Carranza, E., Sjogren, W.L. & Yaun, D.N. (2001) Recent gravity models as a result of the Lunar Prospector mission. Icars, Vol. 150, Issue 1, March, 2001. 14. Muller, P.M. & Sjogren, W.L. (1968, August 16) Mascons:

lunar mass concentrations. Science, New Series, Vol. 161, No. 3842, 680. Muller, P.M. & Sjorgren, W.L. (1972) Large disks as

representations for the lunar

implications regarding theories of formation. The Moon, Proceedings from IAU Symposium no. 47 held at the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne England, 22-26 March, 1971. 35-40. Namiki, N., et al. (2009a) Farside gravity field of the moon from four-way Doppler measurements of SELENE (Kaguya). Science, Vol. 323, 902.

Lamont region of the

J.G. (1998, September 4)

mascons with

Mascons: Masterpieces Of Complexity (cont.)

Namiki, N., (2009b) 904. Namiki, N., (2009c) 902. Neumann, G.A., Zuber, M.T, Smith, D.E, & Lemoine, M.T.

(1996) The lunar crust: global structure and signature of

major basins. Journal of Geophysics

101,16,841-16,843.

Ono, T., Kumamoto, A., Nakagawa, H., Yamaguchi, Y., Oshigami, S., Yamaji, A.,Kobayashi, T., Kasahara, Y., & Oya, H. (2009, February 13)) Lunar radar sounder observations of subsurface layers under the nearside maria of the moon. Science Vol.323, 909-912. Ronca, L.B., (1972) The geomorphic evolution of the lunar surface. The Moon, Proceedings from IAU Symposium no. 47 held at the University of Newcastle- Upon-Tyne England, 22-26 March, 1971. 43-54.

Research, Vol.

By Ron Brooks, Ed.D.

Ronca, L.B., (1973) The filling of the lunar mare basins. The Moon, Vol. 7, 239-248. Shoemaker, E. M., (1964) The geology of the moon. Scientific American Vol. 211, No.6,38-47. Sjogren, W.L., (1977) Lunar gravity determinations and their implications. The Moon, A New Appraisal from Space Missions and Laboratory Analyses, March 31, 1977. 219-226. Solomon, S.C. & Comer, R.P., (1982) The evolution of impact basins: viscous relaxation of topographic relief. Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 87. No. B5,

3975-3992.

Urey, H.C. (1956) Vistas in Astronomy, A. Beer, Ed. Pergamon Press, London, Vol.2, 1676.

An Appeal For Help

I received this appeal from Southern India. Please consider if you can help.

Dear Editor, We are Madras, India based small group of Amateur Astronomers. We have been conducting astronomical outreaches for past 8 years including few solar outreaches for several schools, orphanages & general public. Since, we are using our limited resources and equipments maximum possible, we are not able to cope up with requests for outreaches from various places. In order to cover many schools, we are in need of various astronomical aids. Currently we are in look out for sponsors for Coronado PST Double Stack - 0.5A H-Alpha Solar Telescopes and 5/6" reflectors, glass solar filters and optical film solar filters and aids. The scopes and aids will be helpful for us to organise more outreaches and also will help us in taking the happiness of observing to more schools. We look forward for your help on getting sponsorships. We hope to hear from you soon. I have given my address below and I request you to publish our request in forth coming issue of the Practical Astronomy! If a foreword by you on our request, will surely able to get us the sponsorship. Thanking you with warmest regards,

Dhinakar Rajaram rdhinakar@gmail.com TG, 3rd Block, Jain's Ashraya Phase 1, 1A, Vembuliamman Kovil Street, K.K. Nagar West, Chennai (Madras) - 600 078, Tamil Nadu, Southern India Mobile (preferred): +91 94440 84047 Land line: +91 44 2364 0390

Readers’ Images

Images of the Moon taken during the total lunar eclipse on 15/06/2011 from Chennai, India by Murali Krishna Kanagala

He writes

were taken in infrared (night shot mode in my camera, which is sensitive to IR) while Moon was almost invisible to naked eye. These two are not long exposure photos. Moon glowing in infrared at the time of total lunar eclipse.

Moon glowing in infrared at the time of total lunar eclipse. Two (1 & 2) of

Two (1 & 2) of these

Details of photos: Camera SONY DSC-H50 1) Exposure 1.0 sec, Aperture 4.0, Focal Length

48mm

2) Exposure 1/2 sec, Aperture 4.5, Focal Length 78mm

48mm 2) Exposure 1/2 sec, Aperture 4.5, Focal Length 78mm 3) Third is the series of

3) Third is the series of photos taken at the same time.

3) Third is the series of photos taken at the same time. Ursa Major and Minor

Ursa Major and Minor by Asadollah Ghamarinezhad

10-22mm Canon lens 60D Canon camera 20s exposure time

by Asadollah Ghamarinezhad 10-22mm Canon lens 60D Canon camera 20s exposure time Practical Astronomy Oct-Dec 2011

Readers’ Images (cont)

First Glimpse of the Milky Way! by Raven Yu

Images (cont) First Glimpse of the Milky Way! by Raven Yu Summer Milky Way and Caliraya

Summer Milky Way and Caliraya Tower ( image above ) - by Raven Yu

Way and Caliraya Tower ( image above ) - by Raven Yu One clear summer night

One clear summer night last April 2, I went to Lake Caliraya to participate in a Messier Marathon with fellow Filipino amateur astronomers from the UP Astronomical Society and the Astronomical League of the Philippines.

A few minutes after

midnight, a hazy, glowing band of stars became visible from the east to the south. One of my companions said that it was the Milky Way. I was so excited to see it that I immediately set up my Nikon 40D on a tripod so that I could finally get my first image of our very own galaxy.

The constellation Scorpius

is a region which points

towards the center of the Milky Way. Due to its location on the Milky Way, this constellation contains many deep sky objects such as the open clusters Messier 6 (the Butterfly Cluster) and Messier 7 (the Ptolemy Cluster), NGC 6231 (by ? Sco), and the globular clusters Messier 4 and Messier 80. It also has many bright stars, including Antares (a Sco), fl1 Sco (Graffias), d Sco (Dschubba), ? Sco (Sargas), ? Sco (Shaula), ? Sco (Jabbah), ? Sco (Girtab), p Sco (Iclil), s Sco (Alniyat), t Sco (also known as Alniyat) and ? Sco (Lesath).

The night was really cold and wind was blowing hard, so it was a quite a challenge to take steady images. However, capturing an image of this wonderful view of our galactic home was worth all the effort.

Sky View: Northern Hemisphere Mid-Nov 20:00 GMT (lat. 51N)

Looking East

These maps show the sky view in different directions at 20.00 GMT in mid-Nov, for an observer at latitude 51deg North (northern hemisphere) or 30deg South (southern hemisphere). In Oct/Dec? Objects rise later/earlier. Closer to the equator? Objects are higher above your local southern/northern horizon, but patterns are the same. Local time zone not GMT? The view should be much the same at 8pm in your local time.

Maps generated with Stellarium

Sky View: Northern Hemisphere Mid-Nov 20:00 GMT (lat. 51N)

Looking South

These maps show the sky view in different directions at 20.00 GMT in mid-Nov, for an observer at latitude 51deg North (northern hemisphere) or 30deg South (southern hemisphere). In Oct/Dec? Objects rise later/earlier. Closer to the equator? Objects are higher above your local southern/northern horizon, but patterns are the same. Local time zone not GMT? The view should be much the same at 8pm in your local time.

Maps generated with Stellarium

Sky View: Northern Hemisphere Mid-Nov 20:00 GMT (lat. 51N)

Looking West

These maps show the sky view in different directions at 20.00 GMT in mid-Nov, for an observer at latitude 51deg North (northern hemisphere) or 30deg South (southern hemisphere). In Oct/Dec? Objects rise later/earlier. Closer to the equator? Objects are higher above your local southern/northern horizon, but patterns are the same. Local time zone not GMT? The view should be much the same at 8pm in your local time.

Maps generated with Stellarium

Sky View: Northern Hemisphere Mid-Nov 20:00 GMT (lat. 51N)

Looking North

These maps show the sky view in different directions at 20.00 GMT in mid-Nov, for an observer at latitude 51deg North (northern hemisphere) or 30deg South (southern hemisphere). In Oct/Dec? Objects rise later/earlier. Closer to the equator? Objects are higher above your local southern/northern horizon, but patterns are the same. Local time zone not GMT? The view should be much the same at 8pm in your local time.

Maps generated with Stellarium

Sky View: Southern Hemisphere Mid-Nov 20:00 GMT (lat. 30S)

Looking North

These maps show the sky view in different directions at 20.00 GMT in mid-Nov, for an observer at latitude 51deg North (northern hemisphere) or 30deg South (southern hemisphere). In Oct/Dec? Objects rise later/earlier. Closer to the equator? Objects are higher above your local southern/northern horizon, but patterns are the same. Local time zone not GMT? The view should be much the same at 8pm in your local time.

Maps generated with Stellarium

Sky View: Southern Hemisphere Mid-Nov 20:00 GMT (lat. 30S)

Looking East

These maps show the sky view in different directions at 20.00 GMT in mid-Nov, for an observer at latitude 51deg North (northern hemisphere) or 30deg South (southern hemisphere). In Oct/Dec? Objects rise later/earlier. Closer to the equator? Objects are higher above your local southern/northern horizon, but patterns are the same. Local time zone not GMT? The view should be much the same at 8pm in your local time.

Maps generated with Stellarium

Sky View: Southern Hemisphere Mid-Nov 20:00 GMT (lat. 30S)

Looking South

These maps show the sky view in different directions at 20.00 GMT in mid-Nov, for an observer at latitude 51deg North (northern hemisphere) or 30deg South (southern hemisphere). In Oct/Dec? Objects rise later/earlier. Closer to the equator? Objects are higher above your local southern/northern horizon, but patterns are the same. Local time zone not GMT? The view should be much the same at 8pm in your local time.

Maps generated with Stellarium

Sky View: Southern Hemisphere Mid-Nov 20:00 GMT (lat. 30S)

Looking West

These maps show the sky view in different directions at 20.00 GMT in mid-Nov, for an observer at latitude 51deg North (northern hemisphere) or 30deg South (southern hemisphere). In Oct/Dec? Objects rise later/earlier. Closer to the equator? Objects are higher above your local southern/northern horizon, but patterns are the same. Local time zone not GMT? The view should be much the same at 8pm in your local time.

Maps generated with Stellarium

Observers’ Delights

Oct-Dec 2011

MOON

Full

MOON Full New Full New Full New

New

MOON Full New Full New Full New

Full

MOON Full New Full New Full New

New

MOON Full New Full New Full New

Full

MOON Full New Full New Full New

New

MOON Full New Full New Full New
 

12th Oct

26th Oct

10th Nov

25th Nov

10th Dec

24th Dec

VENUS

   

MARS

 

JUPITER

 

SATURN

 

Becoming favourable in the evening sky from December

 

Observability improving in the early morning sky, but apparent size quite small

 

Becoming larger and brighter in the evening and morning sky - very favourable

Not observable early in the quarter, but emerging in the dawn sky

METEOR

SHOWERS

In October, look for the potentially strong, but moonlit Draconids (8 Oct). Also the Orionids (21-23 Oct). In November, the Taurids with double radiant (5 and 12 Nov) and Leonids (18 Nov). In December, the Geminids (14 Dec) are often a rich shower.

Enjoy BACK ISSUES and BONUSES

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