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LUNAR TRANSIENT PHENOMENA

  This file shared with KeelyNet courtesy of Clark Matthews.
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       (C) 1991 ParaNet(sm) Information Service.  All Rights Reserved.
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       With  all  of the  speculation  about  alien  bases on  the  moon
       and  strange  phenomena  being seen occurring  around  the  moon,
       ParaNet did some research on this and found some very interesting
       artilces  pertaining to this phenomena known as  Lunar  Transient
       Phenomena.  Although it is far from being proof that aliens  have
       set  up bases on the moon, it does provide for  some  interesting
       reading.   During our search, we found a NASA publication  titled
       “Chronological  Catalog  of  Reported  Lunar  Events.”   This  is
       contained  in  NASA Technical Report R-277,  published  in  July,
       1968.   This  document details Lunar Transient  Phenomena  dating
       back to 1540.  We will provide this document in another file, but
       for  now,  we  did find an article that  details  the  scientific
       communities concern now over this strange phenomena.
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               Reprinted from Sky & Telescope Magazine, March, 1991.

                          LUNAR TRANSIENT PHENOMENA (LTP)
                          by  Winifred  Sawtell Cameron,
                              La Ranchita de la Luna,
                                 200  Rojo Drive,
                                  Sedona, Arizona

            On  January 24, 1956 amateur lunar observer R. Houghton  was
       drawing  the  crater  Liebig on the edge  of  Mare  Humorum  when
       something  bright flashed in the field of his  7-inch  telescope.
       The  flare came from the nearby crater Cavendish, which was  just
       emerging from the lunar night. Closer inspection revealed that  a
       peak on the crater’s eastern wall was repeatedly flashing.

            Houghton called astronomer Brian Warner and told him what to
       look  for.  Warner  too  saw the  flashes  and  called  them  “so
       conspicuous that they were seen immediately.” The other peaks  in
       the vicinity remained normal.

            On  the  night  of November  2-3,  1958,  Soviet  astronomer
       Nikolai  A. Kozyrev witnessed a strange phenomenon  while  making
       spectrograms   of   the  crater  Alphonsus   with   the   Crimean

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       Astrophysical  Observatory’s  50-inch reflector.  As  he  watched
       through  the  telescope’s guiding eyepiece, he saw  the  crater’s
       central  peak  blur  and  turn  an  unusual  reddish  color.  The
       spectrograms  confirmed  his  visual impressions  of  a  volcanic
       event;  they  showed an emission spectrum of carbon  vapor  (S&T:
       February, 1959, page 184).

            On  July  19, 1969, the Apollo 11 command  module  had  just
       achieved orbit around the Moon when the Mission Control Center in
       Houston,  Texas, received word that amateur astronomers  reported
       transient  phenomena in the vicinity of the  crater  Aristarchus.
       Asked to check out the situation, astronaut Neil Armstrong looked
       out  his window toward the earthlit region and observed an  “area
       that is considerably more illuminated than the surrounding  area.
       It  just has — seems to have a slight amount of fluorescence  to
       it.”  Although he wasn’t sure, Armstrong believed the region  was
       Aristarchus.

            Accounts  of lunar transient phenomena (LTP’S) are not  new.
       Over  the  past  30  years,  I  have  collected  close  to  2,000
       observations dating from as far back as 557 A.D. Most are  visual
       reports  of bright spots, flashes, hazes, and  curious  temporary
       colorations  of  the  lunar soil.  Reputable  observers  such  as
       William  Herschel,  Wilhelm Struve, and E. E. Barnard  have  seen
       them. Some LTP’s have even been photographed, as well as recorded
       polarimetrically,  photometrically, and  spectroscopically.  Yet,
       despite  a profusion of observations and six Apollo  missions  to
       the Moon, the nature of LTP’s remains elusive and their origin an
       enigma.

            About   200  of  some  30,000  lunar  features  visible   in
       telescopes  have  been recorded as LTP sources. Half  have  shown
       activity  only  once.  Of the remainder, a  mere  dozen  features
       contribute  three-fourths of all reports. One area,  Aristarchus-
       Herodotus-Schroters Valley, is responsible for fully one-third of
       the total number sighted.

            Most LTP activity occurs along the edges of the maria,  near
       volcanic  features, like domes, sinuous rilles, and craters  with
       dark  halos  or floors. But these regions, like the rest  of  the
       Moon, have long been considered geologically dead. Circular maria
       are  large, primordial impact basins that were filled  with  lava
       about  3  billion  years ago. There is  evidence,  however,  that
       volcanism  has occurred in some craters that are perhaps  only  a
       million  years old. Could the bright flashes, hazes,  and  colors
       reported at these sites be proof that the Moon is still active?

                        THOUGHTS ON THE ORIGIN OF LTP’S

            Possible explanations for LTP’s are not lacking. One of  the
       earliest  proposals  was made by Jack Green of  Douglas  Advanced
       Research  Laboratories  in Huntington  Beach,  California.  While
       studying  the standing levels of water and oil in deep wells,  he
       found  that  the  levels  varied  in  concert  with  the   Moon’s
       anomalistic  month (27.55 days, from perigee to perigee),  as  if
       the  strength of the Moon’s tidal force affected the tiny  cracks
       in  the bedrock through which oil and water move. Based  on  this
       idea,  he  suggested that LTP’s are degassing  phenomena  brought
       about  by  the  Earth’s  tidal  effects  on  the  Moon.   Maximum

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       degassing, he believed, would occur at the Moon’s most  eccentric
       apogees  and  a minimum at the least  eccentric  perigees.  After
       analyzing  1,200 observations, however, I could not find  such  a
       relationship.

            Some  LTP  phenomena may be caused by  sunlight  interacting
       with  the  lunar soil. On October 30, 1963, James  Greenacre  and
       Edward Barr observed red spots sparkling on the southwest wall of
       the crater Aristarchus, the east wall of Schroter’s Valley, and a
       hill between them (S&T: December, 1963, page 316). The  phenomena
       was observed visually by others and recorded spectroscopically as
       well.  At the same lunar phase a month later, Greenacre and  Barr
       saw a similar event. Since sunrise on these features occurs  when
       the  Moon  is about 11 days old, Greenacre thought that  the  low
       lunar Sun was somehow responsible. Indeed, thermoluminesence  mat
       be  the cause. Gases in the lunar soil, frozen during the  night,
       could heat up and escape near sunrise.

            Could  high-energy solar particles impacting the  Moon  also
       trigger LTP activity? Shortly after a large flare erupted on  the
       Sun  in  1963,  Zdenek Kopal and Thomas Rackham at  Pic  du  Midi
       Observatory  in southern France photographed a local  brightening
       around  the  craters Copernicus, Kepler, and  Aristarchus.  Kopal
       proposed  that  energetic particles from the flare  caused  lunar
       rocks to fluorescence. Such activity might be expected especially
       at   full  phase  when  the  Moon  passes  through  the   Earth’s
       magnetosphere, where solar wind particles become trapped.

                                   ANALYSIS

            LTP  sightings  fall  into  five  categories:  brightenings,
       darkenings,   reddish   colorations,  bluish   colorations,   and
       obscurations.  When plotted against the lunar anomalistic  month,
       the  data show that LTP activity peaks somewhat when the Moon  is
       moving  from apogee to perigee, especially about halfway  between
       these points when the Moon is approaching Earth the most rapidly.
       When  the Moon is opposite that point in its orbit, LTP  activity
       is  at  a deep minimum.  Since tidal stressed  build  from  lunar
       apogee to perigee, one might expect such a pattern.

            When LTP phenomena are plotted against the Moon’s phases, it
       appears  that  the most phenomena occur around the time  of  full
       Moon  (though  LTP’s  have been  observed  throughout  the  lunar
       cycle).   Also,  more  are seen near the sunrise  line  than  the
       sunset line, though that might be simply because far more  people
       observe the waxing Moon in the evening than the waning Moon after
       midnight.  Gaseous phenomena and anomalistic brightenings seem to
       peak when the Moon is a waxing crescent.

                                ARE THEY REAL?

            Some  astronomers dismiss all LTP’s as  either  aberrational
       effects   in  Earth’s  atmosphere,  changes  in  lunar   lighting
       conditions,  or  outright illusions.  Such  skepticism,  however,
       flies  in  the  face  of  those  who  have  devoted  decades   to
       familiarizing  themselves with the Moon, and who very  well  know
       these  common  observational  effects.  *   LTP’s  are  localized
       phenomena.   They are regions or features that experience  change
       while the rest of the Moon remains normal.

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            No  doubt  some  apparent LTP’s are  caused  by  atmospheric
       effects.   One is the “ashen glow.”  Here, sunlight scattered  by
       Earth’s  clouds is cast onto the Moon’s night surface,  resulting
       in   LTP’s   that  simply  reflect  changes  in  the   level   of
       illumination.    Another  pseudo-LTP  concerns  bright   features
       fringed  with  blue  (north) and red (south)  seen  against  dark
       backgrounds.   These  probably are aberrational  effects,  namely
       atmospheric  dispersion near the observer, perhaps enhanced by  a
       lingering temperature inversion.

            Sightings  of  a  starlike point on the  Moon  may  also  be
       disregarded  as an LTP.  This is the only transient phenomenon  I
       have  ever  observed  myself.   But I  suspect  it  is  merely  a
       reflection  effect  from  flat facets on  areas  of  large  rocky
       outcrops  when  the  Sun and observer are  at  just  the  correct
       angles.   (High  magnifications  spread the light  into  an  area
       instead of a point.)

            Even if we eliminate the three types of non-LTP’s  discussed
       here,  that  still  leaves more than 40 percent  of  the  reports
       unexplained.

            There  is  evidence that the remaining LTP’s  are  of  lunar
       origin.   a  substantial number of sightings  were  independently
       confirmed.   Professional astronomers have recorded them on  film
       and  spectrograms, as well as with photoelectric photometers  and
       polarization  equipment.   Experiments  on  the  Apollo  missions
       detected  trace outgassings of the radioactive elements radon  an
       polonium,  suggesting that more substantial amounts  of  commoner
       substances  were  released  at the  same  time.   One  experiment
       possibly  detected  water vapor during the largest  moonquake  on
       record  (Richter 4).  the epicenter of that quake was near or  in
       the large, fractured crater Gauss north of Mare Crisium.  To  me,
       this  is  the  one lunar feature that looks as  if  it  had  been
       covered  with a thin crust of glass subsequently shattered by  an
       impact.

            While  in  lunar  orbit,  Harrison  Schmitt  of  Apollo   17
       witnessed  a  flash  near the crater  Grimaldi  west  of  Oceanus
       Procellarum.   Since he was dark adapted, it’s possible he saw  a
       cosmic-ray flash within his own eyeball.  But it’s also  possible
       he saw a lunar event.  In the past, Grimaldi had been responsible
       for more than a dozen reports of flashes.  The crater Plato  near
       Mare Imbrium is another source of flashes.  Although many craters
       responsible  for  LTP sightings have central  peaks  with  summit
       craters, Plato has none.

            So the Moon may not be such a cold, lifeless neighbor  after
       all.  It still breathes through the action of LTP’s, which in  my
       opinion  are  probably gentle outgassings  of  less-than-volcanic
       proportions.   Whatever they are, thanks to the LTP’s,  the  Moon
       remains a curious place.