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LCROSS Mission illustration

Episode 3:

with guest Brian Day, Education and Public Outreach Lead for NASA's LCROSS Mission

Brian Day

When humans return to the Moon to explore and live on its surface, those future lunar inhabitants will need safe habitats and plenty of water. As it turns out, the Moon may have all the water we need, locked away in ice deposits at its poles. Today, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) are allowing scientists to search for water at the lunar south pole. In this episode, we hear about this water-hunting expedition from Brian Day, the education and public outreach lead for the LCROSS mission.

Listen (mp3, 5 MB)

Download Transcript (pdf)

Further Activities & Resources 


Produced by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific

Written and narrated by Carolyn Collins Petersen

Original music by Geodesium

Soundtrack production by Loch Ness Productions

Web page materials by Andrew Fraknoi

Special thanks to Brian Day and Dr. Seth Shostak.

Exploring The Moon Further:
A Collection of Activities and Resources to Get Behind the Headlines

Andrew Fraknoi (Foothill College & ASP)
August 2009

Here are some materials for informal science educators (and their audiences) to delve more deeply into the topics discussed in this month's "Astronomy Behind the Headlines" podcast. This month's discussion concerns our scientific understanding of the Moon and an ongoing mission, called LCROSS, which builds on intriguing hints from earlier Moon missions to search for water in its shadowed craters.

Here we consider the topic of understanding the Moon more broadly, looking at resources about lunar science, lunar exploration, observing the Moon with binoculars and telescopes, and the phases of the Moon in the sky.


A1. The Science of the Moon

A2. Missions to the Moon

A3. Observing the Moon with Binoculars and Telescopes

A4. Finding the Phase of the Moon (and More)

A5. Some Educational Activities for Learning about the Moon

A6. Webcasts about the Moon


B1. Books about Our Scientific Understanding of the Moon

B2. Books about Observing the Moon

B3. Children's Books about the Moon


C1. Lunar Science

C2. Observing the Moon for Yourself


A1. The Science of the Moon

Encyclopedia Entry on Moon by Paul Spudis at NASA (nice background summary): http://www.nasa.gov/worldbook/moon_worldbook.html

The Full Moon (by Luc Viatour)
The Full Moon (by Luc Viatour).

Nine Planets Site Introduction: http://nineplanets.org/luna.html

Views of the Solar System Site Introduction: http://www.solarviews.com/eng/moon.htm

Discussion of Ice on the Moon (before the LCROSS Mission plans):

The Origin of the Moon (by William Hartmann, who, with a colleague, first suggested the giant impact hypothesis for how the Moon formed, in 1975):

A2. Missions to the Moon

LCROSS Mission Site:

See the special page for educational resources: http://www.lcross.arc.nasa.gov/resources/

Article on the mission from Popular Mechanics magazine: http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/air_space/4277592.html
(See also the first webcast under heading #6 below)

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission Site (this is LCROSS' companion mission):

Clementine Mission Site (first hints of ice on the Moon): http://www.cmf.nrl.navy.mil/clementine/

List of Moon Missions (NASA):

Annotated Missions List from the Moon Society:

Mission Lists and Links from the Lunar and Planetary Institute: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/expmoon/

Apollo Lunar Surface Journal (comprehensive site about the landings): http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/alsj/

PBS To the Moon Site (on the Apollo landings):

We Choose the Moon Site (a recreation of the Apollo 11 mission): http://wechoosethemoon.org/

A3. Observing the Moon with Binoculars and Telescopes

Moon gets hit
Moon gets hit (from a 1902 French film).

Sky & Telescope Magazine's Moon Observing Articles:

Inconstant Moon (Kevin Clarke's rich site full of moon information, observing guides, an atlas, phase calendar, moon music, and much more):

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Moon (Akanna Peck's site shows what's visible on the Moon and lets you search by feature names; for serious observers):

The Consolidated Atlas of Best Lunar Images (from the Lunar and Planetary Institute):

A4. Finding the Phase of the Moon (and More)

Paul Carlisle's Moon Calendar:
(displays the phase of the Moon for any date from 3999BC to 3999 AD)

Akkana Peck's Moon Phase Applet:

StarDate Online Moon Calendar:

Moonrise and Moonset Calculator:

A5. Some Educational Activities for Learning about the Moon

The Earth and the Moon (from the Deep Impact Spacecraft, NASA)
The Earth and the Moon (from the Deep Impact Spacecraft, NASA).

Observing (and Understanding) Lunar Phases (from the Pacific Science Center's Astro Adventures Program):
[click on Favorite Science Activities in the menu at left and then on Observing Lunar Phases] (This sequence of superb inquiry-based activities helps people of all ages to understand the changing appearance of the Moon over the course of a month.)

Exploring Lunar Phases with a Daytime Moon (from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's Astronomy from the Ground Up Program): http://www.astrosociety.org/afgu/DaytimeMoon.pdf
(Uses the Sun and Moon in the sky, plus a Styrofoam ball to help visualize the Moon's phases.)

Crash Landing (from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's Family ASTRO Program):
(Participants imagine survivors of a crash on the Moon and figure out what is most essential for their backpacks to survive.)

Does the Moon Rotate (from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific Night Sky Network Program):
(A brief demonstration using models of why the Moon keeps one face to the Earth.)

Impact Craters (a series of activities and resources from the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium's Exploring Planets series): http://www.spacegrant.hawaii.edu/class_acts/CrateringDoc.html
(students drop things from a height onto a "lunar surface" to simulate the making of craters)

Exploring the Moon (a 158-page teacher guide with activities from NASA): www.nasa.gov/pdf/58199main_Exploring.The.Moon.pdf
(Put together by the planetary science group at the University of Hawaii in 1997, this guide has a wide range of activities on lunar science and exploration for middle and high school level.)

A visual demo of the phases of the Moon (from the Project ASTRO Site at the National Optical Astronomy Observatories):

Relevant Issues of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's newsletter for teachers, The Universe in the Clasroom:

The Lunar and Planetary Institute's Site "Connect to the Moon" offers a wide range of other resources for educators (with the proviso that almost everything on the site is NASA based):

A6. Webcasts about the Moon

Dr. Anthony Colaprete (NASA Ames Research Center) discusses "Prospecting for Water on the Moon: The Upcoming LCROSS Mission" (January 21, 2009, Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures:

Moon Myths and Moon Misconceptions: Phil Plait (author of Bad Astronomy), planetary astronomers Paul Spudis, and others separate moon fact from fiction in this humorous hour (July 6, 2009, SETI Institute Are We Alone show):

Short NASA video on the LCROSS Mission:


B1. Books about Our Scientific Understanding of the Moon

Aldrin on Moon with US Flag
Aldrin on Moon with US Flag.

Chaikin, Andrew A Man on the Moon. 1994, Viking Press. A well-reviewed history of manned lunar exploration and what it taught us.

Harland, David Exploring the Moon: The Apollo Expeditions. 1999, Praxis/Springer-Verlag. Reviews the work of the astronauts on the Moon in the context of what we now know about lunar geology.

Kustenmacher, Werner The Moon: A Guide for First-time Visitors. 1999, Formmer's. Not entirely serious, this is a tourist guide book to the Moon, written as if travel there were already common place. Interesting combination of fact and whimsy.

Spudis, Paul The Once and Future Moon. 1998, Smithsonian Inst. Press. A geologist discusses what our exploration of the Moon has taught us, and what we might do in the future to know and use the Moon better.

B2. Books about Observing the Moon

Kitt, Michael The Moon: An Observing Guide for Backyard Telescopes. 1992, Kalmbach. Eighty-page illustrated primer for beginners.

Massey, Steve Exploring the Moon. 2006, New Holland. An observing guide from an Australian perspective, with good hints about techniques and equipment.

North, Gerald Observing the Moon: The Modern Astronomer's Guide. 2000, Cambridge U. Press. Very detailed observing guide for serious moon watchers.

Wood, Charles The Modern Moon: A Personal View. 2004, Sky Publishing. A thorough introduction to observing the Moon, by Sky & Telescope's moon columnist and a planetary geologist.

B3. Children's Books about the Moon

Bourgeois, Paulette The Moon. 1995, Kids Can Press, Toronto. Includes both cultural and scientific view of the Moon.

Bredeson, Carmen The Moon. 1998, Franklin Watt/Grolier. For younger kids.

Cole, Michael The Moon: Earth's Companion in Space. 2001, Enslow.

Heller, Janet How the Moon Regained Her Shape. 2007, Sylvan Dell. Uses a native American folk myth to teach about the moon's phases and encourage children's self-esteem. Has an end section of science ideas.

Hitt, Robert The Moon. 1998, Grolier/Michael Friedman. 64-page introduction to moon motions and exploration.

Krupp, E. C. The Moon and You. 1993, Macmillan. Beautifully illustrated primer for younger children by a noted astronomy educator.

Rosen, Sidney Where Does the Moon Go? 1992, Carolrhoda Books. Primer for younger kids by an astronomer.

Stott, Carol Moon Landing: The Race for the Moon. 1999, DK Books. Lavishly illustrated kids' encyclopedia.


C1. Lunar Science

Aldrin on Moon with Footprints
Aldrin on Moon with Footprints.

Bakich, Michael "Asia's New Assault on the Moon" in Astronomy, Aug. 2009, p. 50. On the Japanese Selene and Chinese Chang'e-1 missions.

Foing, Bernard "What Europe's Moon Mission Revealed" in Astronomy, Aug. 2009, p. 44. On the SMART-1 Mission 2003 - 2006.

Foust, J. "NASA's New Moon" in Sky & Telescope, Sep. 1998, p. 48. On results from the Lunar Prospector mission.

Jayawardhana, R. "Deconstructing the Moon" in Astronomy, Sep. 1998, p. 40. An update on the giant impact hypothesis for forming the Moon.

Oberg, James "The Biggest Hole in the Moon" in Astronomy, Nov. 2005, p. 50. About the Aitken Basin at the Moon's South Pole and what we can learn from it.

Redfern, Greg "Lunar Fireworks" in Sky & Telescope, June 2009, p. 20. A preview of the LRO and LCROSS missions.

Spudis, P. "The Giant Holes of the Moon" in Astronomy, May 1996, p. 50. On the results of the Clementine mission.

C2. Observing the Moon for Yourself

Alves, Filipe "Capturing the Colors of the Moon" in Sky &Telescope, July 2005, p. 120. Using digital cameras and software like Photoshop to bring out colors in lunar photos.

Burnham, R. & Therin, G. "The Joys of Moongazing" in Astronomy, Mar. 1991, p. 84. Observing and photography with modest telescopes.

Friedman, Alan "Good Moons from Bad Locations" in Sky & Telescope, Aug. 2007, p. 84. Hints for producing nice digital lunar images even from urban sites.

Wood, Charles "Introducing the Lunar 100" in Sky & Telescope, Apr. 2004, p. 113. A list of the top 100 features on the Moon for amateur telescope observers, with explanations and guides.