"If you live in Asia and Australia you have a rare opportunity for an observing adventure," writes Sky & Telescope's Moon columnist, Chuck Wood, on LPOD, Lunar Photo of the Day:

Kaguya in lunar orbit

Japan's Kaguya spacecraft, soon to hit the Moon's surface, released two smaller orbiters early in its mission.


On June 10th at 18:25 Universal Time, the Japanese lunar orbiter Kaguya (formerly named Selene) will end its two years of science with a final impact experiment. The location of the impact is very near the southeast limb, close to 80.4º E, 65.5º S This time and location are according to an update early on June 10th by the Japanese aerospace agency JAXA.

Wood writes, "This area will be in shadow as the Moon has just passed full, but easy to find just beyond the terminator south of [the crater] Janssen. Visual observations and video monitoring may be rewarded with a bright flash or (possibly) a cloud of ejecta that rises into sunlight as the large spacecraft rams into the surface at 6000 km/hr. . . .

"There is a possibility that Kaguya might impact 1 or 2 orbits (2 or 4 hours) earlier — it is very close to the surface, and both unexpected topographic highs and gravity anomalies may hasten its demise. . . ."

Here is Wood's entire article, with images showing where to watch.

Here's a Kaguya image gallery.

Japanese TV has been broadcasting high-res video from Kaguya as it skims over the lunar landscape. I hope they can keep the camera going right to the final moment.

A Warmup for the LCROSS Impact!

Observers in western North America and in Hawaii should be better positioned to watch NASA's own Moon-impact experiment — which has been delayed and will probably now happen between October 7th and 11th. This event is the subject of a feature article in the June Sky & Telescope. Two craft in the LCROSS mission will hit inside a permanently shadowed polar crater four minutes apart. Many instruments in orbit and on Earth will watch for any signs of water vapor in the ejecta.

Countless amateurs will also be watching; NASA mission specialists say signs of the LCROSS impacts may be detectable in 10-inch or larger telescopes.

The date, time, and place of the LCROSS impacts have yet to be finalized. Here's the NASA site for observations, and here's the LCROSS_Observation Google Group for planning and discussing observations and the latest mission news.


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