Lunar impact party!

By Phil Plait | October 5, 2009 2:30 pm

lcross_shirtOn October 9th, NASA will slam two large objects into the south pole of the Moon in the hopes of detecting water there.

Since there’ll be fireworks, why not have a party? The folks at the LCROSS site have put together a kit with all the info you need to throw a lunar impact party — videos, event timings, and more. If you want to watch the event as it unfolds, this is a good place to start. You can even get party clothes to emulate what all the scientifically-inclined glitterati are wearing.

I’ll be in the UK on October 9, and it’ll be broad daylight, so it looks like I’ll miss seeing this event with my own eyes. But I’ll keeping close tabs on the web, and I’ll link to images and video as soon as I find them.


Comments (40)

  1. Brian

    Damn, wanted to order that shirt. it is only 15.95, but the cheapest shipping option is $11!!


  2. I can’t help but to be reminded and laugh at the blog where someone asked if we had consulted the Moon itself about this, and how did the Moon feel about being attacked like this. Am I the only one that rememers that bit of wooish ranting?

    Sadly I will be driving to work at the time of the impact, but hope to have some newsy site up once I get into the office.

  3. Travis Bear

    I’m having trouble deciding if I should host a lunar impact party or a windows release party. Decisions decisions!

  4. kevbo

    @Travis Bear:

    -that IS a tough decision. But you’re only guaranteed TWO crashes with the lunar impacts…

    (I CAN’T believe I was first to get that reply in)

  5. Ryan

    Hmm, looks like I’ll arrive at work about 30 minutes before the scheduled impact. I’ll have to let my coworkers know what’s going on at least. I’m sure they’ll be excited.

  6. SLOOH will be showing live feeds from two US based telescopes looking for the LCROSS impact plume

  7. 3. Travis Bear Says:

    I’m having trouble deciding if I should host a lunar impact party or a windows release party.

    As noted by kevbo, either way you’re dealing with crashes.


  8. Joi_the_Artist

    I don’t have many friends who share my passion for astronomy, but the one friend who does is coming over for an LCROSS sleepover! We’ll probably do some basic stargazing the night before, then wake up in time to (hopefully) watch the impact. Huzzah for living on the West Coast, should be great viewing!

  9. I know I’m planning on going to the LCROSS event at Goddard. Times like this it’s nice to work at a NASA Center!

  10. Gary

    @ #2 We might have to consult the owner of the moon.

    “The topic of real estate on celestial objects has been present since the 1890s. Coming in and out of public focus for several decades, major notability was established for the idea in 1936. A. Dean Lindsay made claims for all extraterrestrial objects on June 15, 1936 and sent a letter to Pittsburgh Notary Public along with a deed and money for establishment of the property. The public sent offers to buy objects from him as well.[1]”

    I picture Snuffy Smith standing on the moon with a shotgun saying “get off my property!”

  11. Gary Ansorge

    The NASA site makes no mention of a video live feed of the impact so I suppose that is not included. Bummer. That would make for a really nice image. OK,so, I guess I’ll just have to get up early and trundle my 8 incher out to the yard. 7:30 am seems as though it might be somewhat swamped by ambient light but, well, I’ll see what I can see.

    GAry 7

  12. Apart from the actual video (or sequence of stills) of the impact to be provided by LCROSS in real-time before it crashes itself, there will be a couple of attempts to webcast live imagery from ground-based telescopes in at least four U.S. states; so far I know of four such feeds under preparation. In the header of the Cosmic Mirror I’m collecting links to these feeds, hoping for more.

  13. Max Fagin

    Right, because everyone likes parties that climax at 7:30 in the morning.

  14. Mark T.

    4:30 a.m. Pacific is going to be a little difficult. Do I stay up or get up early? And why do the schedule all these astronomy things at night? This wll never catch on!

  15. I’ll be waking at 3am in plenty of time to watch as my husband guides the centaur rocket, and then 4 minutes later, the LCROSS spaceship, into the Cabeous crater on the south pole of the moon. Wish I could go camp out there at the NASA Ames parade grounds and watch with the rest of the crowds, but the camping permits were sold out. What an exciting and historic event! Can’t wait to give Rusty and big kiss when he gets home on Friday. He’s worked hard on this mission for 3 years. I hope it’s a spectacular explosion!

    Tamra, wife of flight director Rusty Hunt

  16. I'd rather be fishin'

    Max @ #10 “Right, because everyone likes parties that climax at 7:30 in the morning.”

    Man, I knew I went to the wrong university. That’s when I would be getting home.

    I have 1 high school student in my class that might get up and watch for it. That’s without offering bonus marks too!

  17. I must love this stuff or something.
    I ‘m going to:
    Get up at 3 am.
    Drive to my observing site.
    Try to see/image this event.
    Drive home before my wife leaves for work.
    Feed and dress my 3 y.o. and take her to daycare.
    Drag my sorry, tired, self to work.
    Drive home.
    Check internet for LCROSS news and images.

  18. 8. Gary Ansorge Says: “The NASA site makes no mention of a video live feed of the impact so I suppose that is not included. Bummer.”

    I read on (I think) the NASA Ames site that the feed will be carried live on some sort of NASA premium channel. I didn’t know they had such things. Maybe it’s for the other centers.

    Ames (which is the LCROSS control center) will be open all night to the public. They have some activities planned and camping is allowed on the field next to the building. I was considering going, but I have the first of three intensive classes starting at 8 AM and I don’t want to be all bleary for something I’m paying $1K/day for.

    – Jack

  19. I have a C11 and an Orion Starshoot Solar System imager…going to shoot the video and see what I get!

  20. Dan Gerhards

    Why drive to a dark site? You’re looking for a faint light that’s just a couple arcseconds across, against a *gibbous moon*. I can’t imagine that city lights are going to make it any harder. I’m going for it though. I have a 16-inch scope, so I’m feeling like it’s possible. I clearly saw the flash from the comet impact a few years ago with a 10-inch.

  21. awesomekip

    I’m guessing it won’t be possible to see the impact with a POS Vivitar telescope like this:


  22. hey – what if the Moon burst and went flying off into space to the sound of a cosmic raspberry! I wonder if the NASA engineers have planned for such a deflationary scenario?

  23. Jan Steinmetz

    Insanity. Do we really want to go there?? Seems like we are… hope the bomb goes up at nasa headquarters. This mission is against ourselves against womenkind against life, and everything that could be believed in. who gave nasa permission? who do we think we are? do youre part stopping insanity.youre consciousness will do. please. choose what side you are on.

  24. Well, Windows 7 isn’t until 10/22/09 so there’s plenty of time to plan for that party. I’ve run RC7 for months now with zero problems. Though I will have to buy the full version by next June… crap! I digress!

    I’m pumped up about this event but bummed that I’m in the wrong time zone. I’ll try to catch a web feed or something that’s semi-real time. I gotta get me a shirt!

  25. You can watch the impact live on NASA TV. They are beginning the live coverage at 6:15 EDT and will be approximately 1.5 hours long with a post-impact news conference at 10 EDT.

  26. D Lee

    Day of Infamy
    President Barack H. Obama
    (Hold for delivery on Oct. 7, 2009)

    Yesterday – a date which will live in infamy – the people of Earth were suddenly and deliberately attacked by armed forces of the Moon.
    The world was at peace with the Moon and, at the solicitation of leaders of the Moon, was still in conversation with the government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace throughout our planet.
    Indeed, one hour after Moon forces began attacking Earth, the Moon ambassador and his colleagues delivered to the United Nations a formal reply to a recent Earth message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.
    It will be recorded that the distance of the Earth from the Moon makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Moon government has deliberately sought to deceive the Earth by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
    The attack yesterday on Earth has caused severe damage to Earth military forces. Very many Earth lives have been lost.
    Yesterday, the Moon government also launched an attack against Mercury.
    Last night, Moon forces attacked Venus.
    Last night, Moon forces attacked Mars.
    Last night, Moon forces attacked Jupiter.
    Last night, the Moon attacked Saturn.
    This morning, the Moon attacked Uranus, Neptune and Pluto.
    The Moon has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the solar system. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the Earth have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our planet.
    As commander in chief of the United States Armed Forces, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.
    Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.
    No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated attack, the Earth people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
    I believe I interpret the will of the United Nations and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.
    Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that that our people, our planet and our interests are in grave danger.
    With confidence in our armed forces – with the unbounding determination of our people – we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.
    I ask that the United Nations declare that, since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by the Moon yesterday, a state of war has existed between the Earth and the Moon.

  27. That may be the nerdiest t-shirt of all time.

  28. Dan Gerhards

    awesomkip: Not a chance. The LCROSS team says a 10 or 12-inch diameter scope is the minimum, and even then it might be too faint. We’re talking about a $500 instrument here, not $25. Do take the opportunity to look at the moon though–even a cheap scope will show you some cool stuff.

  29. Theron

    I was just looking at HuffPo’s story on this. Oh good grief. First, they called it “NASA to Bomb the Moon.” So a lot of idiots seem to think that an actual bomb is being used, and are all up in arms about militarising space. Great. And of course some seem to think this is imperialistic in some way. Even better, several commentators wonder is this will change the moon’s orbit, and that NASA is clearly being irresponsible. All this along with the usual bit about why do stuff in space when we have problems at home and general “science bad/toxic/dangerous/etc./” talk. I swear – some of my fellow liberals are just deeply, profoundly silly.

  30. Tempest

    I hope that this doesn’t lead to any catastrophic effects in the long run, like what occurs in most science fiction movies. I don’t see why something like this is necessary. Would’t the resouces used in this project be better spent in discovering water in the desserts in Africa where millions are starving.

  31. Jan Steinmetz @ 24: Either that is a brilliant parody, or you are one seriosly whacked individual.

    – Jack

  32. DenverAstro

    I just checked the NOAA website and the weather here in Denver looks problematic. The forecast is for a 30% chance of snow Thurs nite and Fri morning with a low temp of 29F. However, if I can get my observing buddies butts out of bed, we might give it a try. I use a guided Televue NP127 with a Canon Rebel SLR. I have taken some pretty neat pictures even though I am a rank amateur at it. I would really love to get a series of pics of this event. With my luck, we’ll get our first blizzard of the year this Thurs night! :)

  33. Naomi

    Sweet, 10:30 PM here. Now I just need a telescope!

  34. Mike Wagner

    I’m arguing with a HuffPo moron in a forum right now.
    He thinks LCROSS is going to knock the moon out of orbit, destroy it, or put some weird “English” on it like a billiard ball and have disastrous consequences.

    The Huffington Post is crackpot journalism on par with Fox News.
    I don’t know how either organization has readers/viewers.

    Well, except that some people are incredibly gullible.

  35. Aaron


    Mike, Huffington Post is a red-top tabloid, dressed up nice and pitched to the kind of incredibly obnoxious leftist who thinks he’s going to save the world simply by holding the political beliefs that he does. You are not required to take seriously by default anything that you first see, or only see, there.

  36. @Aaron: great, now I filled my quota of “losing faith in humanity” for this week.

  37. Goosebumps

    Didn’t the moonwalkers leave some urine behind? Why not have a water pressure powered rocket go there instead? I’ve got good info that this whole mission is to settle a $1 bet. If a rocket impacts the moon and no one detects water, did it really happen? Remember NASA, you break it, you buy it.

  38. sophia8

    “Knock the Moon out of orbit”??? Sheesh.
    And here’s me thinking that some TwitterTwit rabbitting on about how the ‘searching for water’ bit is just a cover and LCROSS will actually be looking for plutonium – ‘cos the japanese have just detected plutonium on the moon dontchaknow? – was the height of silliness.

  39. An article on ‘SyFy’ tells about this, with many ‘woo’ responses:


    note: currently less than 1 hour to impact, I mysteriously woke up and will be staying up until event is past.


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