Here’s an amazing photo of the moon taken by my colleague Kevin Meacham. The photograph, which shows a red/orange moon over New York City, was taken in New Jersey.
So, why is the moon that reddish color?
Well, when the moon is over the horizon like it is in this picture, it’s actually farther away from Earth than when it’s overhead. Because it’s farther, it takes light that much longer to travel through our atmosphere.
“By the time the moonlight reaches your eyes, the green, blue and purple pieces of visible light have been scattered away by air molecules. You only see yellow, orange, or red,” according to Windows of the Universe.
A little grainy, but here it is.
A photograph of the massive, 1,300-foot wide asteroid 2005 YU55 – which will pass extremely close to Earth today – was released by NASA. The aircraft-carrier-sized object is not a threat, scientists say, but it will be closer to our planet than the moon.
The asteroid will reach its closest point to Earth today at 6:28 p.m. EST. It might be difficult for an amateur astronomer to see, but here’s some fabulous advice from Sky and Telescope.
Scientists were expecting to photograph the object as it speed by Earth. The imaging will continue and we’ll be sure to post additional photos here on Space Oddities. This is the first time astronomers know about a flyby of an object this large.
Happy Birthday, STEREO!
Tomorrow, Oct. 26, is the fifth anniversary of the launch of NASA’s STEREO mission, which has helped scientists understand the structure and evolution of solar storms as they blast from the Sun and move out through space.
In honor of the milestone, NASA will be posting video of STEREO’s discoveries and observations on one of its YouTube pages. Here’s a pretty amazing video taken in 2007. It shows a solar eclipse, a transit of the Moon across the face of the Sun.
Did you know there have been 71 missions to the moon? 71!
Yet despite all the research, there are still many mysteries that surround our moon.
Hoping to solve perhaps one mystery is NASA’s newest mission: GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory). Twin probes – each the size of washing machines – are expected to launch Saturday morning after several weather-related delays.
GRAIL’s goal is to map the moon from its surface to its core using gravity. Understanding the moon, scientists say, will give us information about how planets were formed. It can give us an insight to our past, as well as our future. After all, we don’t really understand the moon’s gravitational pull on Earth. It affects our tides, and some believe our minds, too. But why? And how?
Finding out what lies in the moon’s core will also help us understand this mystery: Why is the far side of the moon so different from the side that we see.
From Earth, we can only see one side of the moon. Its craters, which look like a human face, are actually lava-filled basins. (There aren’t any active volcanoes on the moon, but scientists believe that it was once a lava-flowing ocean) While there are craters on the far side of the moon, they weren’t filled with lava. Why? There’s a lot of money riding on GRAIL finding out.
And what about the mysterious flashes of colored light that observers have seen on the moon for hundreds of years? Scientists have called this light TLP, or Transient Lunar Phenomena.
Some believe the moon is emitting gas clouds from its once volcanic past; others say small objects are crashing onto the moon, causing debris to spew onto the surface. And yes, there are a few who say little green men are responsible.
We don’t really know what is causing the TLP, but maybe if we understood what the moon is made of, it’ll help us understand what’s happening on its surface.
When will we hear anything? Well, GRAIL won’t start mapping the moon for six months. Then it’s going to take 82 days for the actual science to happen.
Yeah, it’ll be awhile.