Water Found on Moon

There are some places on the moon that are wetter than some pretty dry places on earth, like the Sahara Desert. According to the results of an experiment conducted last October by NASA scientists, water, in the form of ice, mixed with soil, was discovered at the bottom of a crater which never sees light, near the south pole of the moon. The dry Sahara sands vary in their water content from about 2 to 5 percent. The water content in the soil in the 60-mile-wide, 2-mile-deep crater named Cabeus was estimated to range from 5.6 percent to as much as 8.5 percent.

NASA scientists, who have been pushing for a return of earthlings to the moon, believe that it would be possible to use this water for drinking after extraction from the soil and then purification. They also speculate that the water could even be used for rocket fuel after the moon water is broken down into its component parts, hydrogen and oxygen, using the fuel to either get back home to earth, or travel on to Mars and beyond.

Unfortunately the hopes of NASA for further moon explorations have recently been dashed. Despite the fact that five years ago the Bush administration supported NASA’s new “Constellation” program to send astronauts back to the moon, President Obama nixed the plan, stating that the plan is too expensive, and anyway “we have already been there.” A compromise plan was reached, passed by Congress and signed by Obama just last week, postponing the program for now, at least for explorers of the human variety.

Perseids Visible with No Moon in Sight

This year we are lucky that visibility for the annual Perseid meteor shower will be ‘stellar.’ That is because the shower, which always falls from the 11th to 13th of August, this year will not have a moon ruining the visibility, which can sometimes happen. Where will the moon be, perhaps you are asking. Well, the phases of the moon are well known by all; the fact that the moon starts out each month as a tiny crescent resembling the tip of a thumbnail and grows to be a bright, full circle two weeks later, and then shrinks again until the moon disappears altogether is noticed by all. But what many people do not pay attention to is that the moon rises and sets later and later each night. When the moon is small, at the beginning of the lunar month, the moon sets about the same time as the sun. About two weeks later the moon is full, and rises at about the same time as the sun sets, and sets at about the same time as the sun rises. That is why, when the moon is full we see it  the entire night.  At the end of the month you would need to wake up just before sunrise to witness the moonrise, and the only time the moon is in the sky is during the day, when it’s view is washed out by the brightness of the sun.

This year the Perseids happen to fall during the first few days of the lunar month, and the moon will have set shortly after the sun, and will no longer be visible in our nighttime sky. Watch for it this Thursday evening, August 12th, setting in the west an hour or two after the sun has set. It will just be a tiny crescent, but it will be there.