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No. 56: Mar-Apr 1988

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Cometary scars on the moon?

More information has surfaced on the enigmatic lunar swirl markings (Category ALE5 in our catalog: The Moon and the Planets. These whitish blotches are not only visually incongruous, being obviously different from the debris spla shes around craters, but they also exhibit curious magnetic properties. J.F. Bell and B.R. Hawke, of the University of Hawaii, have acquired near-infrared spectra of the swirl designated Reiner Gamma. They report that the composition of the swirl material does not match the crater ejecta; and, also, that a previously undetected reddish halo surrounds the swirl. Best guess at present: The swirls are the scars of comets -- probably less than 100 million years old. (Anonymous; "Cometary Scars on the Moon," Sky and Telescope, 75:11, 1988.)

Comment. Does nearby earth also bear cometary scars? Some think that the 1908 Tunguska Event was a cometary impact. (See ETC2 in our catalog: Caro lina Bays, Mima Mounds.) Also see the the item below under GEOLOGY about comets and the earth's oceans.

Reference. Both catalog volumes mentioned above are described here.

From Science Frontiers #56, MAR-APR 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987