moon news 2001

31 december 2001: uranian moon stripped of title

The 18th moon to be discovered orbiting Uranus, S/1986 U 10, has been stripped of its title by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The object, found in May 1999 by Erich Karkoschka of the University of Arizona who was examining images taken 13 years earlier by the Voyager 2 probe, has fallen foul of recently tightened IAU criteria which require further observation to determine its orbit before it can be confirmed as a natural satellite of Uranus.

Full story from Spaceflight Now

5 december 2001: lunar leonids strike again

Apart from some spectacular meteor displays, this month's Leonid meteor shower has also given observers an opportunity to witness another phenomenon: a lunar impact. The first confirmed sightings of objects striking the Moon were in 1999 - again during the Leonid meteor shower - when seven flashes recorded on video were matched with independent observations. This year a further two impacts have so far been confirmed as observers review their video tapes.

Full story from Sky & Telescope

15 november 2001: moon sightings split ramadan start

Muslims in Britain and around the world will be starting the religious fasting period of Ramadan on different days. The holy month begins when the crescent moon is first sighted from Mecca, but while some Muslims will wait for word of the actual sighting to be relayed, others use astronomically calculated dates instead.

Full story from BBC News

19 october 2001: lunar soil reveals solar secrets

New analyses of lunar soil samples returned by the Apollo missions have provided an insight into both the impact model for the origin of the Moon and the nature of the Sun's atmospheric processes. Comparison of the abundance of different oxygen isotopes in lunar and terrestrial soils, coupled with recent computer simulations of the massive collision which formed the Moon, suggest that the Mars-sized body which struck the proto-Earth had a similar composition and had therefore formed in the same region of the solar system. Meanwhile, an analysis of levels of beryllium-10 suggests that it is being formed in the outer layers of the Sun and continually carried to the Moon in the solar wind.

Full story from Sky & Telescope and BBC News

19 september 2001: lost moon-landing tape found

Pressure from Kipp Teague, creator of the Project Apollo Archive, has resulted in the rediscovery of a dramatic sound recording of the last minutes of Apollo 11's descent to the lunar surface. The tape, which was found in very poor condition at NASA's space centre in Houston, features the voices of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and flight controller Gene Krantz.

Full story from BBC News

15 august 2001: how the moon was made

US researchers have developed a computer simulation - the most sophisticated yet - of the formation of the Moon. Based on the impact of a Mars-sized body with the early Earth, the simulation produces a good match with the current orbits and compositions of the Earth and Moon. Compared with earlier models, it indicates a larger proto-Earth, a smaller impacting planet, and a more recent collision - some 4.5 billion years ago.

Full story from BBC News

21 june 2001: african eclipse: a treat for scientists

Eclipse hunters from all over the world have converged on Africa to witness the first total solar eclipse of the new millennium. Wildlife enthusiasts have studied the effects on birds and animals, and solar scientists have enjoyed fine views of the Sun's corona, enhanced by the current period of high solar activity.

Full story from BBC News

26 may 2001: space tourists ready to dig deep

Following millionaire Dennis Tito's trip into space on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, a survey has revealed that 76% of people are interested in the idea of a holiday in space, and over a third would like to visit the Moon.

Full story from BBC News

25 may 2001: sahara yields more rare meteorites

Finds by meteorite hunters in Africa have increased the number of known lunar finds to 23. Many of them, although found at different times, have been found to belong to the same falls as others.

Full story from Sky & Telescope

21 april 2001: earthshine shedding light on earth's climate

Astronomers are planning to watch the Moon in order to monitor Earth's climate. The faint glow of the Moon's dark side at crescent phase is caused by sunlight reflected from the Earth's atmosphere. Any radiation that isn't reflected is absorbed; thus when the Earth isn't as reflective, it must be getting warmer.

Full story from Sky & Telescope

9 april 2001: mars and moon rocks discovered

Two rare meteorites from the Moon and Mars have been recovered in northwest Africa. The lump of Moon rock, weighing in at about one kilogram (2.2 pounds), is thought to be the second largest Moon meteorite ever found. If the Martian and lunar origins are verified, the rocks will be of considerable interest to scientists. About 20,000 space rocks are estimated to land on this planet every year but very few hail from the Moon or Mars.

Full story from BBC News

15 march 2001: an eyewitness impact debunked

In 1976 geologist Jack B. Hartung proposed that a passage from the chronicles of medieval monk Gervase of Canterbury describes the creation of Giordano Bruno, a crater near the Moon's northeast limb. It proved difficult to confirm or refute, but now a new analysis demonstrates that a cratering event could not have happened in 1178. The fragments ejected by the impact would likely have showered Earth with a trillion bright meteors during the days that followed, yet no mention of such apocalyptic displays appears in the chronicles of the era.

Full story from Sky & Telescope

19 january 2001: stardust images moon's north pole

During an orbital loop around the Moon en route to its rendezvous with Comet Wild 2 in January 2004, NASA's Stardust spacecraft flew to within about 108,000 km of the moon and took 23 images to calibrate its camera.

Full story from Spaceflight Now

10 january 2001: total eclipse of the moon

Millions of skywatchers have seen the first total eclipse of the Moon of the 21st Century. Astronomers gathered to watch the Moon slip into darkness in the clearest view of a lunar eclipse in a decade. For those with clear skies, the eclipse was visible to the naked eye from 18:42 GMT, when the Moon first began moving into the Earth's shadow.

Full story from BBC News plus pictorial feature