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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