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No. 64: Jul-Aug 1989

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Bright flash on the moon is 1985

Photo of Moon and the position of the flash
Left. Photo of Moon. Right. Sketch based on photo. The arrow marks the position of the flash. Some large craters noted for reference. (Two to right of terminator do not show up well on photo).
We quote an abstract that appeared in the journal Icarus.

"We present photographic evidence of a very short duration, strong flash from the surface of the Moon (near an irregularly shaped crater in Palus Somni). The flash covered a region roughly 22 by 18 km wide with a total energy of the order of 1017 erg. The event is established to be slightly above the surface of the Moon. An explanation is proposed involving outgassing and a subsequent electrical discharge caused by a piezoelectric effect."

(Kolovos, G., et al; "Photographic Evidence of a Short Duration, Strong Flash from the Surface of the Moon," Icarus, 76:525, 1988.)

Comments. Of special interest above is the suggestion that the flash was generated by the electrical ignition of expelled gases. It has been proposed that terrestrial earthquake lights are kindled in the same way (See GLD8 in our catalog: Lightning, Auroras.) Further, the presence of methane on the moon is compatible with T. Gold's theory that the earth retains huge amounts of primordial methane beneath its crust. (See ESC16 in our catalog: Anomalies in Geology.)

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From Science Frontiers #64, JUL-AUG 1989. 1989-2000 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