ALPO Lunar Meteoritic Impact Search

Brian Cudnik 
Coordinator

Department of Chemistry and Physics

Prairie View A&M University

P.O. Box 519, MS 2230

Prairie View, Texas 77446
mailto:bmcudnik@gmail.com


This program is designed to standardize and coordinate amateur observations of meteoroid impacts on the Moon. This field has exciting possibilities but only if the observations are done in a uniform manner and pooled to look for confirmations of positive observations. Anyone interested in participating should contact the Coordinator above for further information. The Coordinator maintains an "Impact" e-mailing list of regular participants, e-mail him if you would like to be added to the list. Click here to read the full mission statement.


What's New (07/01/2014)?

Monthly Briefings and Upcoming Opportunities

 

Call for Observations for the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer

Recent News and Developments (2011-2013)

Jovian Meteor and Observers’ Resources

 

Lunar Impact Plots (1999-2006) by Peter Gural

 

Links to Lunar Impact Information

 


Lunar Impact Alert Notices!

Mirror Site http://www.pvamu.edu/physics/cosmic-corner/

Check this out for the latest images and news on Lunar Meteor Observations!

Monthly Briefings and Upcoming Opportunities to Observe Lunar Meteors

The new lunar phase cycle has begun. The evening part is underway, with the moon as of 1 July at 13h UT being four days past New and already well placed in the evening sky for observations. The evening part will run through July 7th or two days past First Quarter. Aside from the ongoing anthelion source and the occasional sporadic, there are no annual showers active at this time. The second half of the current cycle runs from July 16th to July 25th, or from two days before Last Quarter to three days before New Moon. At this time several weak showers are becoming active, including the annual delta Aquarid meteor shower, which peaks on July 30th (along with the alpha Capricornids; the Perseids begin to become active during this period as well).

Although the LADEE mission is now history (it crash-landed on the far side of the moon on April 17), observations of lunar meteors are still needed. Anyone interested in making observations at any time during these intervals should contact me at the above e-mail address to inform me of your attempts and/or post on the lunar-impact list server. Also if you attempted to make observations during the science phase of LADEE (November 28 through April 17) please let me know. If you need assistance with your tapes do not hesitate to let one of us know, either myself or someone on the lunar-impacts list server group.

The complete observing plan for lunar meteors for 2014 can be obtained here.

The mirror site that complements this site is online and will display images obtained by observers as soon as they are received, to give near-real time updates of observers’ results. Also included will be any information provided by the observer such as date, time, location, etc. The mirror is part of the “Cosmic Corner” website athttp://www.pvamu.edu/physics/cosmic-corner/.

Call for Observations in Support of the LADEE Mission

As already mentioned, LADEE ended on April 17, but there is still need for observations during the time frame of the mission (November 28, 2013 through April 16, 2014) so if you were observing during this time and have something to contribute, you are more than welcome to send it my way.

Brian Day of NASA-Ames Research Center wrote: “The Lunar Meteoroid Impacts and the LADEE mission online workshop was held on Dec 5, 2013. Presenters included RickElphic (LADEE Project Scientist), Brian Cudnik (Coordinator of the ALPO Lunar Meteoritic Impact Search, Author of “Lunar Meteoroid Impacts and How to Observe Them), Rob Suggs (NASA Meteoroid Environment Office), George Varros (pioneering observer of lunar meteoroid impacts and author of “Nudger” lunar auto-guider software), and PeterGural (author of LunarScan impact detection software). Because of our international audience, the workshop was recorded and archived for convenient viewing. You can view the workshop at http://connect.arc.nasa.gov/p4zpsnm6weh/.”

I highly recommend visiting this site and watching the entire conference. Even though the mission has ended, there are plenty of resources to help one get oriented to the observations of lunar meteors. More information about the LADEE mission itself can be obtained from http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/LADEE/main/.

One of the main objectives for ground-based observations is to correlate the occurrence of impact events with changes in the dust concentration as measured by LADEE. This, combined with careful measurements of the maximum intensity of the flash, its light curve, and knowing the impact velocity of the meteoroid, will enable us to get an estimate of the luminous efficiency (how much impact energy goes into making the optical flash) of the impact as well as a rough estimate of the mass of the meteoroid.

Recent News and Developments

Brightest Lunar Meteor Yet Observed

Dr. Madiedo of the University of Huelva in Spain reported a bright meteor flash caused by a space rock impacting the Moon’s surface at an estimated 37,900 mph (61,000 km/h), blasting out a new crater roughly 131 feet (40 meters) wide. This impact was observed by a pair of telescopes that are part of the MIDAS (Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System) observatory, at 8:07UT on September 11, 2013. The event occurred in Mare Nubium. The meteoroid weighed in at an estimated 880 lbs. (400 kg) and measured between 2.0 and 4.5 feet (0.6 and 1.4 meters) in diameter. More information about this event can be found at http://www.space.com/24789-moon-meteorite-impact-brightest-lunar-explosion.html.

Some Recent Observations of Lunar Meteor Phenomena

I will, at the start of each observing cycle, add reports from the prior cycle to this website. I eventually plan to compile the below into a table of impact events, in catalog format, and add this to the growing catalog of lunar meteoroid observations. Images can be viewed at the mirror site linked above.

 

CANDIDATE IMPACT EVENT FROM FEBRUARY 2014

Bill Porter reported a recording of a possible impact candidate from about 12:30 UTC on Feb 23. Location was in the eastern half of Lacus Somniorum, in the general area of Hall Y1 dome and Hall K crater. George Varros reports: “Using the Virtual Moon Atlas, the coordinates are close to LONG 36.724 LAT 34.105 - in the vicinity of the Hall crater.” (An image will be posted to the CosmicCorner mirror site sometime this week, or before March 6th). The impact appeared quite faint according to Mr. Porter, who observed this from California, USA. A comparison star was videotaped a few minutes later ( HIP 82951A, mag 6.55). The “jury is out” on this one since it shows a gradual rise in brightness, a peak, then a gradual fall, which is not consistent with a typical impact event.

CANDIDATE IMPACT EVENT FROM DECEMBER 2013 and JANUARY 2014

Two candidates from Jan 5: I don’t know what to make of them. They are both single video field events and are dim but don’t look like cosmic rays because of their nice shape and brightness centroids. They have a similar look, are dim and very short, just like the one from Jan 4.  (I’m rescanning everything using Lunarscan 1.5 after experiencing anomalies or unexpected results.)

Jan 5, 2014 00:12:26  Lat 15.321S  Lon 25.489E inside crater Cyrillus F

Jan 5, 2014 00:31:35  Lat 15.5N  Lon 20.6E

001226_candidate 003135_candidate

[Images courtesy of George Varros]

——————————————————————–

This is a detection by Marco Iten and Stefano Sposetti of a probable impact event on the moon. These are members of the Swiss-Italian team of lunar observers.

———-

Date: 2014 Jan 7

UT Time: 18:19:31.0

Airmass: 1.39

Lunar coordinates: 15.5° West, 19.5° North (Mare Imbrium)

Duration: 20 ms

Brightness: -

Presence of artificial satellites along the line-of-view: none in a 3deg diameter

Iten’s instrument: 125mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate

Sposetti’s instrument: 280mm reflector with WAT902H2 Ultimate

Images courtesy of (left) M. Iten and (right) S. Sposetti.

2014_01_07_181931_iten 2014_01_07_181931_sposetti

——————————————————————–

Lunar meteor observer George Varros reports the following impact candidate:

I found a single video field event that may or may not be an impact. It occurred on Jan 4, 2014, at 23:49:37 UT, just south of Gambart B at  Lat 0.979 Long -11.56  I uploaded and posted an image and a map, in a new folder labeled “01/04/2014 candidate”.

Although it’s only one video field, the event does not have the visual appearance of a cosmic ray in that it has a brighter center and is in a matrix of 3×3 pixels – it looks somewhat stellar.

It was not detected by Lunarscan probably because the event is only seen in the even video field – the odd field was blank along with the odd field of the next frame. The picture is dark because I probably have my gain set too low.

 

 

I received the following reports (December 7th and 8th) from the Swiss-Italian Lunar Observation group. Within a day (or two or less) of the date of this notice, images related to this report will be made available on the mirror site. Stefano SposettiI reported the following:

 

 Saturday, Dec 7, Marco Iten, Raffello Lena, Andrea Manna and I, made some video recordings of the crescent Moon. We got good, but also poor sky conditions. 2 of us, Marco Iten and I, detected independently and simultaneously a small flash on the Moon. The image of Marco Iten shows a very nice bright point of light, lasting about 4 fields (ie. 80 ms). My image is a lot blurred because of wind and strong turbulence, the flash is washed out but clearly visible at the same instant and in the same lunar region. The airmass at the moment of the detection was 3.9. No artificial satellites were along the line-of sight inside a 3deg diameter centered on the Moon coordinates. We performed no photometry of the flash. To note that Marco Iten noticed the flash visually in real time, while looking at the laptop screen.

 

In summary:

----------

Date: 2013 Dec 7

UT Time: 19:31:06.6

Airmass: 3.9

Lunar coordinates: 11° West, 14° South (Mare Nubium)

Duration: 80 ms

Luminosity: -

 

Iten's instrument: 125mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate

Sposetti's instrument: 150mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate

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Marco Iten, Raffello Lena, Andrea Manna and I made some video recordings of the crescent Moon in the first half of December 2013.

“December 8th, 2 of us, Marco Iten and Stefano Sposetti, detected independently and simultaneously a small flash on the Moon. The image of Marco Iten shows a somewhat bright point of light, lasting about 2 fields (ie. 40 ms). The flash of light in the Sposetti's image is less evident.

“The airmass at the moment of the detection was 2.19.

“The geostationary satellite INTELSAT 907 was at 66arcmin from the Moon centre at the moment of the detection, ie. outside the field of view. No other satellites were in a 3degree diameter circle centered on the Moon coordinates.

“We performed no photometry of the flash.

In summary:

----------

Date: 2013 Dec 8

UT Time: 19:15:58.6

Airmass: 2.19

Lunar coordinates: 18° West, 50° South (Longomontanus crater border)

Duration: 40 ms

Luminosity: -

 

Iten's instrument: 125mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate

Sposetti's instrument: 150mm refractor with WAT902H2 Ultimate”

 

In addition to these reports, the NASA-MSFC Meteoroid Environment Office reported, during the “Workshop Without Walls” web-based meeting last week of a faint impact candidate on the western (Celestial west) limb of the moon, imaged at 11:07:24.3 on 29 November 2013. Someone else in e-mail communication mentioned this as being one of three candidates observed that morning. I do not have an image to go with this report but one can see it on the online workshop.

Small Meteoroid Impact Observed in Europe on 1 August 2013

I received the following report from Raffaello Lena of GLR-Italy. He writes: “On August 1, 2013 at 02:21:55.7 UT, a small meteoroid has likely impacted the Moon' s surface. The kinetic energy transformed by the impact into thermal energy also caused a short a flash of light that was detected by telescopes of R. Lena, A. Manna and S. Sposetti. The simultaneity of the flash and the same position on the lunar surface indicates it is an impact. The event described above has been observed by Raffaello Lena (GLR group, Rome Italy) with a refractor 130 mm and with a video camera Mintron. The flash was also detected by Andrea Manna from Cugnasco (Switzerlnd) with a Schmidt Cassegrain 200 mm and a camera watec 120N+. Stefano Sposetti (Gnosca, Switzerland) detected the flash using two telescopes: Refractor 150 mm and SC C11” equipped with watec 902H2 cameras.

Two observatories in Switzerland are at a distance of 10.0 km. The observatory in Italy (Rome) is at a very long distance of 558 km from Gnosca (Switzerland). Time synchronicity of the various files is assured by using a GPS time inserters (KIWI-OSD) and an Atomic Clock Synchronization protocol. The meteoroidal lunar impact detected on August, 1, 2013 at 02:21:55.7 UT was simultaneously recorded by four independent video recordings. The duration of the flash correspond to 0.08s and reached a peak brightness of 8.3 ± 0.7 mag. The selenographic coordinates of the lunar impact flash are determined to 73° ± 4° E and 27° ± 3° N, near the crater Seneca C. The examined impact flash probably corresponds to a α-Capricornids shower exhibiting favourable impact geometry on the impact date. Enclosed an image of the detected lunar impact. A report of the observing session (written by Sposetti, Manna and I) is published in Selenology Today 33, which can be accessed with the following link:

http://www.lunar-captures.com//Selenology_Today/selenologytoday33.pdf.

Largest Meteoroid Impact Yet Observed on the Moon, March 17, 2013

NOTE: A crater has been identified to be the result of this impact. More information on that can be read at the following website: http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/news/index.php?/archives/843-New-Crater!.html#extended

NASA has observed the largest impact yet detected on the moon. At 3:50:55UT on March 17, 2013, a flash peaking near magnitude 4.0 was observed at lunar latitude 20.6N, longitude 23.8W. The explosion produced was the equivalent of that produced by 5 tons of TNT. The crater generated by this explosion is estimated to be approximately 20 feet (6 meters) in diameter and was produced by a beach-ball sized meteoroid (about 35-cm diameter) impacting at 57,000 mph (26 km/sec), that possibly is part of a little known meteor shower called the eta Virginids. More information about this extraordinary event can be obtained at http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/16may_lunarimpact/.

General Astronomy Free e-Book Available for Download

My general interest visual astronomy book (revised and corrected) entitled “The Art and Science of Visual Astronomy”, is available for free download. This is where I share my fascination with the aesthetic, visual side of astronomy and include information on some of the best objects that amateur astronomers look at on a regular basis. This is meant to instill interest in visual astronomy as well as keep beginning astronomers hooked and interested in observing. I cover a wide range, from the natural beauty of the Earth and daytime sky, to the uniqueness of deep sky objects such as galaxies. A unique feature of this free e-book are the tables of “equivalent distances” to objects of various types (both within the local solar system and beyond), that is how close one would be to a given object of interest to get a naked eye view that matches what one sees through the eyepiece. Suggestions are always welcome for improvement. The e-book can be downloaded from here. Please be aware that, because of all the pretty pictures, it may take a few minutes to download completely. Once it is downloaded, you can save a copy to your local machine.

A Likely Impact from a Sporadic Meteoroid (2011)

The GLR (Geologic-Lunar Research) group in Italy reported a very likely lunar meteoroid impact candidate on 11 February 2011 at 20:36:58.355UT. The obsevers were Stefano Sposetti and March Iten. Stefano Sposetti reports, “Marco Iten and me detected a probable impact flash on the Moon, simultaneously, from our two observatories, located 16km apart. It lasted about 4 fields (i.e. 0.08s) in one video file; a bit less in the other video file. No artificial satellites were in a 2-deg field of view at the moment of the detection and the two flashes in the two video files are located at the same lunar feature.” Since impact was observed with two telescopes separated by 16km (below the arbitrary 30km threshold that we use to determine uniqueness) and it has been verified that no artificial satellites were in the vicinity of the moon at the time of the impact, this can be considered a confirmed event. More information, including analysis, can be found at this website http://digidownload.libero.it/glrgroup/st22web.htm.

 

Jovian Meteors and Resources for Observers

Jovian Meteor #3

On September 10, 2012, a Jovian meteor was observed by a visual observer in Minnesota and confirmed by video in Texas. It was a two-second long, sixth magnitude meteor that happened in Jupiter’s atmosphere. It is likely that the object mostly burnt up in the atmosphere, as observations of the site on subsequent rotations have yielded no markings. This event serves as a reminder that Jupiter provides a potential wealth of information in the area of meteoritics and the interactions between colliding planetary bodies. The story can be read at http://www.spaceweather.com/ (Select September 12 2012 under “Archives” if you do not see a link to the story anymore). A real-time video of the impact event can be viewed at http://www.flickr.com/photos/19299984@N08/7976507568. And check out the article published just one day before that declares “Fireballs Light Up Jupiter” at http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/09sep_jovianfireballs/.

Jovian Meteor #1, and #2

Another Jovian meteor was videotaped as it happened at 18:22UT on 20 August 2010. The event was recorded independently by two observers in Japan:  Masayuki Tachikawa of Kumamoto city was first to report the event, and Tokyo amateur astronomer Aoki Kazuo made the confirming recording some 800 km away. More information on this event, including pictures and video, can be seen on the August 23, 2010 page of www.spaceweather.com. Sky & Telescope also has a story on this which can be read at http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/home/101264994.html.

This makes the second confirmed meteor observation on Jupiter in 2-1/2 months, with the first being on June 3rd. The June 3 and 4 (2010) page of www.spaceweather.com has more information, including an image and a video of this extraterrestrial meteor, which occurred at 20:31 UT on June 3rd. You can also go to the news section of Astronomy Magazine’s website (http://www.astronomy.com/asy/default.aspx?c=ss&id=26, scroll to the archives near the bottom of the page, select June 2010 and look for the link…) to get the news story. Amateur astronomers Christopher Go (the Philippines) and Anthony Wesley (Australia) simultaneously observed this event, making it the first ground-based confirmed observation of an actual impact event on another world beside the moon (to my knowledge). The impactor must have been a rather large object to have produced such a bright flash of light as seen from a half billion miles away.

The first meteor did not produce any dark markings, and it is unlikely that this one will do so as well. Both appear to be atmospheric fireballs that disintegrated before reaching the clouds.

This reinforces my suggestion (which is now being considered by others) to begin a serious project of continuously monitoring of Jupiter for impact events. This would need to be done at high powers, enough for 1 arc-second (or better) resolution. A setup similar to what is used in lunar meteor or asteroid occultation work, but with larger telescopes (at least 10-inch) and less sensitive cameras (since Jupiter is bright) would do the trick, and could reveal the true rate of such impacts with implications for Earth and the impact probability here.


Observer Resource: Lunar Meteoroid Impacts and How to Observe Them

The book is now available for purchase at bookstores as well as online. One can go to Springer’s website and find more information about the book, at http://www.springer.com/astronomy/book/978-1-4419-0323-5. One can also go to Amazon.com and get it for as little as $17.56 (used) off the publisher price; the website is (it looks truncated so if this link does not work, simply go to www. amazon.com and type in the title of the book in the search field, and it will come up)…

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_0_10?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lunar+meteoroid+impacts+and+how+to+observe+them&sprefix=Lunar+Mete

LunarScan 1.5 by Peter Gural now Available!

The latest version of the automated detection software is ready for download. Go to http://www.lunarimpacts.com/lunarscan15.zip to download a copy. This version is usable for formats up to 720x576 (PAL). The software is free under the condition that you provide impact flash observations (date/time/location) to NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office at the e-mail address listed under "Contact Us" at http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/news/lunar/index.html.

A “Quick Start” guide to LunarScan can be obtained by clicking here or here.


Definitions to Describe Quality of Lunar Meteor Observations

In order to better qualify the probability of an observation being genuinely impact in nature, we have adopted a definitive classification scheme.  The descriptors are given below

  • Confirmed Observation: Those impacts observed by at least two independent observers separated by at least 50 km (30 mi) within 2 degrees of latitude and longitude on the moon and 2 seconds of time (99% confidence).
  • Tentatively Confirmed Observation: Those impacts observed by at least two independent observers separated by less than 50 km (30 mi) within 5 degrees of longitude and 5 seconds of time (95% confidence).
  • Probable: Those impacts observed by a single observer having the characteristics of an impact observation--appearing on two or more video frames, a measurable point-spread-function (i.e. appearing similar to a star), and/or confidence at least 80%.
  • Candidate: Any impact observation submitted by a single observer with a confidence of at least 50%.

With these criteria in place, we can better group observations in terms of quality and estimate the likelihood of the observation being that of an actual impact event.  It is very possible that a candidate could be elevated to the status of "confirmed" with the corroborative observation of a second independent observer, as stated in the qualifications above.


Lunar Impact Plots

Included are the plots made for meteor showers with ZHR's greater than 10 that occur when the Moon is favorably placed for the observation of impact flashes from Earth.  In addition to the plots for 2005 and 2006, plots for 1999 to 2004 are also included for archival purposes.  Click on the following link for impact plots showing when the Moon will be favorably placed to observe possible lunar meteor impacts on its surface from annual meteor showers.  Only when at least some of the dark side of the Moon is presented to the Earth, and the terrestrial ZHR of the shower exceeds 15, is the plot for that particular shower (terrestrial) maximum provided.  Many thanks to Peter Gural of Science Applications International Corporation for providing these impact plots. Also note that the LunarScan program is capable of producing lunar impact plots for any shower and any lunar phase; interested parties are encouraged to refer to the documentation that goes with the program for more information.

Lunar Impact Plots--Archives

1999-2002

2003

2004

2005

 2006

Lunar Impact Plots--Current Observable Events

 2005-2061 for 7 major annual showers



More Lunar Impact Information

About the Lunar Meteoritic Impact Search Program, Observing Resources, Information, and Guidelines

Mission Statement, General Purpose, and Goals

Archived Lunar Meteor Alerts

 

How to Make Lunar Meteor Observations and Related Resources

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/pdf/166643main_MinimumSystemReq uirements4.pdf 

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/pdf/166651main_FAQ2.pdf

A Guide to Observing Lunar Meteors I:  General
A Guide to Observing Lunar Meteors II: Video

Lunar Impact Plots for Upcoming Meteor Showers

Lunar Meteor Observation Report Forms

A.L.P.O. Lunar Meteoritic Impacts Search Report Form (LMIS-RF) #1

  A.L.P.O. LMIS-RF #2

  A.L.P.O._LMIS-RF #3

Instructions and Tips on How to Fill out the Report Forms

ALPO meteor links

The ALPO meteor section

Meteor Showers for 2010

Recent Observations

George Varros Lunar Meteor Home Page

NASA Lunar Meteor Impacts Monitoring

Robert Spellman Lunar Meteor Home Page

General Information and Historical Observations

Worthy of Resurrection: Two past ALPO Lunar Projects

History of Lunar Impacts

Lunar Leonids 2001

Robert McNaught's predictions of the Moon's Encounters with Dust Trails (1997-2006)

Predictions for Lunar Leonid Impacts

Lunar Leonids 2000

Click here to learn how people were watching for meteor hits during the 2000 Leonid event

Lunar Leonids 1999

Leonid flashers...on the Moon (before the Storm)

Observing Leonids on the Moon (before the Storm)

A Leonid on the Moon? (First News of Possible Impact Sightings)

Nov.18th Lunar-Leonid Impacts

 


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