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2012-05-06

Mystery in Menelaus

From time to time unexpected, temporary lunar phenomena are observed that take the form of localised flashes, coloured glows or obscurations of surface detail; they are grouped under the label Transient Lunar Phenomena (TLP). Some TLP seem to recur in specific places on the Moon, but their timing is as yet entirely unpredictable. Apart from flashes associated with meteoroid impacts the cause of TLP remains open to scientific debate. Since 1984 I have received just a handful of TLP reports from Lunar Section members, and in thirty years of visual observation I have myself observed only three seemingly anomalous events, none which have struck me as being indisputable signs of some form of lunar activity. That was until the evening of 28 March when, during the last observation in a four-sketch study of the crater Menelaus between 19:45 and 21:51 UT, I recorded a definite spot of light inside the shadowed portion of the crater’s floor. At the time I assumed nothing unusual and thought that the spot was a high point on the crater floor catching the rays of the rising Sun. However, on researching the observation (with the help of Tony Cook of the BAA/ALPO Lunar Section) it was found that nothing topographical could account for this spot. Now the hunt is on for photographic confirmation, so if you have any good resolution images of the area in question taken around that time, please send them in!

Added by:  Graham Sparrow