ALPO/BAA/UNIVERSITY OF ABERYSTWYTH PROJECT FOR THE
VERIFICATION/ELIMINATION OF PAST TRANSIENT LUNAR PHENOMENA REPORTS
There exist nearly three thousand observational Earth-based reports, made by amateur and professional astronomers, that suggest that the Moon is slightly geologically active. This is at odds with scientific evidence in the rocks brought back from the Moon and from the lunar atmosphere sampling instruments left behind by the Apollo astronauts. We do however now know that a few of the Transient Lunar Phenomena (TLP) seen may have been real effects for example some of the brief flashes of light seen might have been impact flashes. However brightening, obscurations of underlying detail and colours seen are more enigmatic. Nevertheless some theories have been suggested which might explain some of these e.g. electrostatic dust levitation and outgassing. Unfortunately a lot of the past TLP reports are simple misinterpretations of the lunar surface by observers unsure what the normal appearance looks like at a given lunar phase or libration. Sometimes terrestrial atmospheric effects have blurred and distorted views of the surface of the Moon again giving the false impression that a TLP was occurring. In order to establish which of these two thousand past reports may have been genuine, and which could have been misinterpretations, we are encouraging amateur astronomers to re observe the Moon at the same illumination, and if possible libration, to match those for these past TLP observations so that we can establish what the normal appearance should have been like. High resolution CCD images (monochrome or colour) are exceedingly helpful because we can use these to simulate poor seeing, atmospheric scattering and spectral dispersion. However quality sketches and even visual descriptions of what observers see are also very helpful. Observations can be forwarded to me at the email address below.
As time goes by we will gradually remove the less reliable TLP reports from our list and re-adjust the observational weights of some of the others. It is planned to publish reports on those past TLPs that we have managed to eliminate and acknowledge observers who have contributed to the de-selection process. Your contribution is therefore very valuable to this scientific process. In order to help observers plan when to look at the Moon, below are details of possible observing times for various locations in the world where there may be active amateur astronomers if you are not on this list and wish to participate then please let me know.
In addition, if you are interested in contributing scientifically useful observations to this project, during live TLP events, a twitter service is available on: http://twitter.com/lunarnaut that will hopefully alert you shortly after I learn about a TLP being observed. Note that this is a restricted service intended for use by skilled amateur astronomers and you will need a Twitter account to be able to request receiving these Tweets.
REPEAT ILLUMINATION ONLY OR ILLUMINATION/LIBRATION
The following are a set of dates and UT times under which you will have the chance to observe various lunar craters under identical illumination (to within +/-0.5 deg), or identical illumination & libration (to within +/- 1 deg), conditions to what they appeared as during past TLP (Transient Lunar Phenomena) events. The objective of observing such features at these dates and times is to gain a detailed set of observations of the normal appearance of these features from which we may judge critically past TLP reports. This will help greatly to eliminate many of these TLPs from the 1978 NASA catalog for which simple tricks of lighting were to blame. It will then allow us to identify a core set of reliable observations whose origin may be due to transient, natural surface processes on the Moon, for example meteorite impact flashes, outgassing of radiogenic gases such as Radon or Argon, electrostatic levitated dust particle clouds etc.
Suggested date/times for observing impact flashes on te Moon are included. For more information on observing impact flashes on the Moon see .http://alpo-astronomy.org/lunar/lunimpacts.html
Sometimes weights are incorporated into the descriptions of the TLPs. Two systems are used, the one from the 1978 Cameron catalog of TLP (and the 2006 extension catalog), and a revised set of weights from the ALPO/BAA catalog of TLP. The latter is constantly being revised as observations are received. In some descriptions the Cameron 1978 catalog is referred to as the NASA Catalog.
Cameron TLP Scale:
0 = non-TLP or inexperienced observer
1 = some merit
2 = poor information or non-independent observation
3 = good observer
4 = very experienced observer
5 = confirmed or recorded TLP
0 = a non TLP i.e. proven that this is a normal appearance
1 = probably a non-TLP - but cannot be ruled out often an observation will be assigned a provisional weight of 1 until proven otherwise
2 = good from an in-experienced observer - so might be real
3 = observation from an experienced observer - so probably real
4 = confirmed report by more than 1 observer (at least one experienced)
5 = definitive unambiguous documented evidence
Dr Tony Cook
AFRICA & MIDDLE-EAST