Left in the dark by moon's new hue

The light side of the moon is getting darker, but nobody seems to know why. Whether it's due to volcanic activity or dust kicked up from lunar soil, pictures from America's probe Clementine confirm that a part of the moon is darker today than it was five years ago.

The light side of the moon is getting darker, but nobody seems to know why. Whether it's due to volcanic activity or dust kicked up from lunar soil, pictures from America's probe Clementine confirm that a part of the moon is darker today than it was five years ago.

Even more perplexing, the the reddening landscape - near a crater called Aristarchus - is the same spot that was observed in 1783 by William Herschel, one of history's greatest astronomers who two years earlier had discovered the planet Uranus.

Moon watchers have reported curious flashes and fleeting clouds for centuries. Such "transient lunar phenomena", or TLP, had intrigued astronomers, but they were never confirmed, despite investigation by Nasa.

One of the most notable TLP occurred on 23 April 1994, when about 100 amateur astronomers claimed to have witnessed a darkening of the moon lasting 40 minutes near the bright lunar crater Aristarchus. At that time, the Clementine spacecraft was mapping the lunar surface. Bonnie Buratti, of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has examined the Clementine data and confirmed the amateurs' thoughts. "After the [1994] event, it looks redder," she told New Scientist magazine.

Winifred Cameron, a retired astronomer formerly based at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, thinks changes may be caused by gas eruptions stirring up dust. "I'm sure that changes are due to emanations of gas that is more dense than usual," he said.

Some scientists claim that the crater contains deposits of olivine, a mineral consisting of magnesium and iron silicate that is found in volcanic rocks. That could support theories that the surface changes are due to volcanic activity.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: HR Generalist - 2 week contract - £200pd - Immediate start

£200 per day: Ashdown Group: Working within a business that has a high number ...

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Recruitment Genius: Business / Operations Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well-established and growi...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive - Major Sporting Venue

£29500 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible