moon news 2000

30 december 2000: top honour for patrick moore

Patrick Moore, the man who has done more than any other to raise the profile of astronomy among the British general public, is to get a knighthood from the Queen. "If I have made a contribution, I am delighted," said Moore, the presenter of the Sky At Night programme on BBC Television and prominent lunar astronomy specialist. He was made an OBE in 1968 and a CBE in 1988, and will now get the new, higher honour "for services to the popularisation of science and to broadcasting".

Full story from BBC News

25 december 2000: christmas eclipsed in north america

North and Central Americans have had their Christmas enlivened by a dramatic event: a partial solar eclipse. The Moon passed across the Sun, covering as much as 70% of the solar disc when viewed from remote Arctic areas of Canada. But the partial eclipse was visible over a much wider area, in all but Alaska and western Canada and as far south as Honduras and El Salvador. The last Christmas solar eclipse happened in 1954, and astronomers say that there will not be another until 2307.

Full story from BBC News

30 november 2000: lunar meteorites reveal cataclysm

A new study of Moon meteorites provides fresh evidence that the Earth and its satellite underwent an intense period of cosmic bombardment just under four billion years ago. An analysis of four of the 20 or so known lunar meteorites suggests that the Moon's surface was melted by a torrent of impacts which lasted only about 200,000 years but formed nearly 2,000 large craters and many of the Moon's giant impact basins. Scientists say that the Earth would have been bombarded to a far greater extent, possibly delaying the emergence of life.

Full story from BBC News and Spaceflight Now

26 october 2000: more moons for saturn

The discovery of four more moons orbiting Saturn has ended Uranus' 15 month reign as the planet with the largest known family of Satellites. The moons are all small irregular, captured after the planet's formation. The discoveries - two made using the European Southern Observatory's telescope in Chile, the other two using the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope in Hawaii - take Saturn's satellite count to 22.

Full story from BBC News

16 october 2000: oldest lunar calendar identified

What could be the oldest lunar calendar ever created has been identified on the walls of the famous, prehistoric caves at Lascaux in France. The interpretation that symbolic paintings, dating back 15,000 years, show the Moon going through its different phases comes from a German researcher who has previously associated patterns left in the caves with familiar stars and constellations. He now says groups of dots and squares painted among representations of bulls, antelope and horses depict the 29-day cycle of the Earth's satellite.

Full story from BBC News

5 october 2000: rocks reveal ancient tides

The Earth's oceans were being tugged by tides more than three billion years ago, according to an analysis of rocks in South Africa. The sandstone and shale deposits, which were found in the Moodies group of hills, have markings that scientists say were made by the ebb and flow of waters moving along a continental shoreline. The study proves that the Moon was orbiting the Earth in a roughly similar orbit to the one it occupies today.

Full story from BBC News

23 july 2000: more moons for jupiter

Scientists working on the Spacewatch Project to locate Earth-threatening asteroids have instead found another moon orbiting Jupiter. The discovery - the first for Jupiter in more than 20 years - was originally thought to be an asteroid, then a comet. With the realisation that it is in fact a small irregular moon, it takes Jupiter's satellite count to 17.

Full story from BBC News

21 july 2000: expiriment to explain levitating moon dust

Experiments at the University of Colorado in Arizona are poised to explain a strange phenomenon first seen almost 40 years ago. Both the Lunar Surveyor probe and the Apollo astronauts observed a belt of dust suspended several feet above the Lunar surface. Results seem to confirm the assumption that ultraviolet photons from the sun knock electrons from rocks and dust. This gives isolated grains of dust a positive charge, while electrons displaced from rocks migrate to surface dust particles giving them a negative charge. The result is that the positively charged particles float in a thin layer, repelled by the negatively charged particles on the surface.

Full story from Spaceflight Now

13 june 2000: lights glow on moon

New evidence shows that the Moon is not a totally dead world as was thought by many astronomers. It does still occasionally stir with activity. Even though they have been reported from time to time for hundreds of years, claims of changes on the lunar surface have always been controversial. Many scientists have dismissed the occasional reported sightings of glows and mists hanging over certain lunar features. Now a French astronomer has obtained some of the best evidence yet that occasionally something does disturb the lunar surface.

Full story from BBC News

10 may 2000: firm offers moon burial

The ultimate in peaceful final resting places may now be within reach as a US company is offering a burial service on the Moon. Texas-based Celestis has already sent the remains of 100 people into Earth orbit, but now claims it will drop ashes on to the lunar surface. The company says it is negotiating with commercial firms who are planning missions to the Moon. These may occur in the next two or three years and the ashes would be carried on board as cargo.

Full story from BBC News

16 february 2000: moon's orbit betrays its violent birth

The mysterious tilt of the Moon's orbit around the Earth is probably due to the satellite's violent origin, say scientists writing in the current issue of the journal Nature. A team of researchers from the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), Colorado, US, have used a computer model to trace the Moon's orbit back in time. The study suggests that the gravitational interaction between the forming Moon and the disk of debris from which it emerged was responsible for putting the body in its present orbit.

Full story from BBC News

20 january 2000: once in a red moon event

The lunar eclipse visible on Friday morning promises to be particularly spectacular as events on earth and space conspire to produce a blood red moon. Sunlight from a lunar eclipse filters through dust in the earth's atmosphere to give the moon an eerie red glow, but this year it promises to be a particularly vivid colour. The eclipse should be visible from 0301 GMT, when the Moon enters the Earth's shadow. Low in the western sky, the Moon will gradually darken until totality occurs between 0405 GMT and 0522 GMT.

Full story from BBC News