As was previously reported by GeekDad writer Lonnie Morgan in Crashing Into the Moon for Science, and earlier this morning by Dana Bostic in Ways to See the LCROSS Crash on Friday Morning, NASA’s LCROSS mission is destined to make an impact on the Moon. The mission objective is to search for signs of water in the crater left behind by slamming a Centaur upper stage into the lunar South Pole. We are now into the final countdown for the LCROSS impact. Scheduled for impact into the crater Cabeus at 7:31 a.m. Eastern time this Friday, Oct. 9, there are plenty of opportunities to witness this historical event live!
Of course NASA TV will broadcast coverage live beginning at 6:15 a.m. Eastern time on Friday morning. This coverage will include a live feed from the chase spacecraft camera, real-time animations, commentary and more. For more information on the NASA TV coverage, including a link to the online NASA TV feed, check out the NASA LCROSS page. This page also includes a convenient countdown timer.
Another way to watch the impact is with your own telescope. NASA Ames has a website set up that provides a great deal of information on how to locate the impact crater on the Moon’s surface, expectations of what the plume will look like, and lots of other great information. You will need a telescope that has at least a 10- to 12-inch aperture (for a reflecting telescope) and being further west in North America will definitely provide better viewing due to the sunrise on the East Coast.
If your own telescope isn’t going to cut it or you are not going to be in a prime viewing area, there is another option in the SLOOH website. I am currently working on a review of the SLOOH website with my wife, who is an astronomer, and SLOOH has been kind enough to provide free access to us for the review. Normally, it’s a website where, for a fee, you can get time on a ground-based telescope through the web and take your own observations, a handy alternative if you are an astronomy enthusiast and do not have ready access to a telescope or live in an area with a great deal of light pollution. For the LCROSS impact, SLOOH is training two telescopes, one in New Hampshire and the other in Arizona, and providing a free live feed of the impact. The feed is available at the SLOOH LCROSS event website.
There are, as always, some other viewing options, including public events around the United States, which can be found on the LCROSS page, Where and how to observe the LCROSS impacts. Personally, I will have a combination of the NASA TV feed and the SLOOH feed going in our home since we are on the East Coast.
Of course, with all of these other telescopes observing the impact, the newly upgraded Hubble Space Telescope won’t be left out and will be observing the impact as well. There is no live feed from Hubble but the newly installed Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) and the repaired Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) will be taking images and observing spectra of the impact and the resulting plume. These images promise to be amazing, so watch for those to be released in the days following the impact. For full disclosure, my wife and I have both worked on Hubble and helped build and test WFC3, so we are very excited to see those images.
Happy observing, everyone!
Top Image: Northrop Grumman