Bad Astronomy

Kaguya’s jaw-dropping Moon video

Kaguya is a Japanese spacecraft that has been orbiting the Moon since October 2007. It is equipped with several detectors, but also – brilliantly, in my opinion – two HD cameras. The footage below is not a simulation: it’s real imagery of the Moon! Make sure you click the HD button, or go to the YouTube page to see this in full resolution.

This next footage is of the crater Antoniadi, and is stunning. Note the lens flares from sunlight entering the camera and reflecting inside.

Map of Kaguya impact point on the Moon
I was surprised to learn that the end of Kaguya’s mission will come next week, on June 10! At 18:30 GMT it will impact the lunar surface; this is on the near side of the Moon but in the unlit portion, so that the impact can be studied by ground-based telescopes. This is just past full Moon, so the impact point will just barely be after local sunset on the Moon.

I don’t know if the impact will be visible to small telescopes or not; I rather doubt it (though I’m sure it won’t be visible to the unaided eye!), but I’ll post more info as I find it.