Automatic Lunar Flash Investigation - “ALFI”



What is ALFI?


Freeware is supplied to help amateur and professional astronomers working on lunar impact flash detection. The ALFI software (Windows only at present) can be applied to AVI format monochrome video of the lunar earthshine. The ALFI (Cook, 2017) development project has been made possible by the Horizon 2020, Europlanet 2020 Research Infrastructure (EPN2020-RI, ). To make the software sustainable (in a citizen science sense) we encourage enthusiastic/skilled C/C++ programmers to contact Anthony Cook to participate in the programme. Also for active lunar astronomers, if you detect any candidate impact flashes, please forward your .BMP files to me at the email address below for verification and cataloguing.



Freeware Download:


You can download the Zip file for ALFI here. All the instructions on how to run the program etc are contained in the instructions.pdf file.



Observing Equipment Needed:


Minimum requirement would be a scope of aperture 4.5”, though typically 8”-12” would be ideal. For a camera it is best to use monochrome, and something like a Watec 902H with analog composite video output. These cameras are ideal as they have extended near-IR sensitivity, which is the region of the spectrum that impact flashes are at their brightest. Composite video from such analogue cameras can then be fed through a video capture card e.g. an Osprey 100 PCI card, or you can try a USB capture device so long as it does not drop frames – and it should output uncompressed AVI video (Not MPEG) e.g. Video-2-PC transfer kit. A laptop or PC with a hard drive of at least 1TB; as PAL or NTSC composite video, in monochrome, seems to record at about 13GBytes per hour. Some observers use a 2nd hand digital-8 camcorder with a tape cassette, so long as the camera has a socket to take composite video input. These can then be played back into the PV via a Firewire cable. Alternatively many astronomers are now using USB 3.0 cameras to capture video of earthshine direct e.g. the DMK or ASI1600 cameras – whatever you use make sure that it can video stars down to 10-11th magnitude at speeds of faster than 15 frames per second – you can bin pixels to achieve faster time resolution if you ,like. Please make sure that the camera does not average video frames over time, else you will reduce the sensitivity of detecting impact flashes and make the study of any light curves very problematic.






LunarScan Impact flash detection software by Peter Gural – it is very useful to run more than one impact flash program over video as these all work in different ways.What one piece of software may detect, others may miss and vice versa.


UFOCapture has been used by the meteor community but can be used to look for impact flashes on the Moon. Various free trial versions exist on this web site.


VirtualDub – video capture software which is used in conjunction with the ALFI software


Lunar Impact Monitoring Programme at the NASA Marshall Spaceflight Centre


NELIOTA Lunar Impact Monitoring Programme, funded by ESA at the Kryoneri Observatory, Greece


MIDAS Lunar Impact Flash Project run by the University of Huelva, Spain


Marrakesh Lunar Impact Flash Observatory - Morocco


Earthshine & other lunar target Observing dates/UTs – if your observing site is not here, email me and I’ll add it


Lunar Impact Flash Catalogue – combines the impact flash results from all observing programmes


IOTA Occultation Prediction Software – occultations of stars by the Moon are useful magnitude calibration targets


ALPO Lunar Section Impact Flash Observing – run by Brian Cudnik


BAA Lunar Section – amateur lunar observing in the UK of which impact flash observing forms one of their activities


UAI Lunar Section – active team of lunar impact flash observers in Italy


Selenology Today – Geological Research group with some discussion on impact flash observing


Lunar Meteoroid Impacts and How to Observe Them – book by Brian Cudnik


First Lunar Impact Flash Seen from the UK on 2017 New Year’s day in this BBC report.




Author References:


Cook, A.C, (2012) Future Concepts for Impact Flash Observing, European Planetary Science Congress, held in Madrid, Spain, Vol. 7, EPSC2012-959.

Cook, A.C, (2017) ALFI – Automatic Lunar Flash Investigation, European Planetary Science Congress, held in Riga, Latvia, Vol. 11, EPSC2017-967.

Cook, A.C, Menzies, M.D., and Thorpe, D. (2017)  Mapping Lunar Impact Flashes, European Planetary Science Congress, held in Riga, Latvia, Vol. 11, EPCS2017-971.

Menzies, M.D., Cook, A.C., Sposetti,  S., Lena, R. and Iten, M. (2017) The Spatial Extent of Lunar Impact Flashes, European Planetary Science Congress, held in Riga, Latvia, Vol. 11, EPSC2017-968.

Sweeney, C., Thorpe, D. and Cook, A. (2018) The Spatial Distribution of Lunar Impact Flashes, European Planetary Science Congress, held in Berlin, Germany, Vol. 12, EPSC2018-1077.





Contact Details:


Published: Dr Anthony Cook

Department of Physics

University of Aberystwyth

EmaiL: atc @

Home Page:


The information provided on this and other pages by me, Tony Cook (a t c @ a b e r . a c . u k )

is under my own personal responsibility and not that of Aberystwyth University. Similarly, any

opinions expressed are my own and are in no way to be taken as those of A.U.



Department of Physics


Aberystwyth University