6 Mysterious Statuesque Shadows
Photographed on Moon by Orbiter
By Thomas O'Toole
Washington Post Staff Writer
Six statuesque and mysterious shadows on the moon were photographed and relayed to earth yesterday by Lunar Orbiter 2.
Ranging from one about 20 feet long to another as long as 75 feet, the six shadows were hailed by scientists as one of the most unusual features of the moon ever photographed.
One scientist described the needle.like shadows as the rnoon's "Christmas tree effect.": Still another description called it the "Fairy Castle" effect. On seeing the picture, one scientist wanted to call the region the moon's "Valley of Monuments."
The region of the moon where the shadows turned up is just to the western edge of the moon's Sea of Tranquility. It is an area just north of the moon's equator, slightly to the east or right, of center.
Scientists said they have no idea what is casting the shadows. The largest shadow is just the sort that would be cast by something resembllng the Washington Monument, while the smallest is the kind of shadow that might be cast by a Christmas tree.
Four of the shadows are clustered together and are on the slope of an "old" lunar crater - one that has been there for a long time, more than 1 million years.
All around the six shadows is the more familiar lunar landscape - the crater-marked face that gives the moon the appearance of a cooking pancake just before it is flipped over.
The picture was the most dramatic photo taken thus far by Orbiter 2 and came after the spacecraft transmitted two other "unusual" lunar views over the weekend.
One showed a large crater so close up that scientists
said it was about three-fourths the
size of the Rose Bowl. Another pictured a lunar rock field not unlike the sandlot field where youngsters might play baseball.
All three pictures were taken by Orbiter's 2-inch telephoto
lens, which is capable of revealing objects on the moon the size of a manhole
cover. The pictures were snapped from an altitude of about 30 miles or