Date: Wed, 21 Feb 2001 01:50:19 +0100
From: Wilfried Tost <Wilfried.Tost@dlr.de>
Subject: Torricelli B newsletter (Feb.18)
"Torricelli B" -NEWS-Letter
Here are the results from the "Torricelli B" observations on February
A total of 57 different observing sites, some with multiple observers,
reports of the Torricelli night. This means that every second member of
this newsletter participated in the event and submitted a report.
Participants came from Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Israel,
Italy, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Poland, Switzerland and the USA. (In
You may find maps with the distribution of these sites on the Torricelli
website. (see below)
Of the 57 sites:
32 sites were clouded out
11 sites reported clear sky part of the time and sent results from these
14 sites had good observing conditions most of the time.
This means that there are enough reports available to work out a qualified
conclusion. The many sites with good observing conditions clearly shows how
important it was to have a large number of active observers and observing
No observer reported any unusual brightening in Torricelli B or in the
around the crater. Even the comparison of images taken at different times
during the observation (on the same location) reveiled any differences.
Just to be sure I am going to receive as many images of the observations as
possible to cross check between different sites. Furthermore I will compare
the images with images from the previous and next full moon.
Observers have compared the brightness of Torricelli B mainly with the
craters Censorinus and Moltke but also with Zoellner, Torricelli and
Toricelli A. Two observers reported "Torricelli B" to be "darker" than
"Torricelli A" which does not conform with my observations in Berlin.
The UAI (Union of Italian Astronomers) have monitored Torricelli B very
intensely during many nights and have compared the results of these
observations. They did not find any unusual brightening in their data.
Their detailed and manifold informations can be found on their english
language website at
The observers of the GLR (Geological Lunar Research Group) from Italy
put their results on a webpage of their own. You can find it at
They couldn't find any colors in or around Torricelli B but could see
the even brighter crater Censorinus. Subtle changes in brightness were seen
at high magnifications but might be due to atmospheric conditions.
Three observers from GLR and Nick Martin from Great Britain report,
they have seen a bright spot inside Torricelli B on the eastern
(north-eastern) side. This is a well known albedo feature that is seen
differently by many observers. (The crater with a diameter of just 8 km is
a difficult object to observe) These features were noticed only at
magnifications of 240x and 300x. There is no report of changes in the color
of the bright spots.
There are a large number of observers who used video camera equipment.
Magdeburg, Germany, Jens Briesemeister and Daniel Arndt were able to record
the event from 3:00 UT to 5:00 UT. A comparison of this tape with other
full moons seems especially promising. Video observations from Tony Cook
from Alexandria, VA. (USA) show that Torricelli B is brighter in the
blue/visible than in the infrared. This is usual for relatively fresh young
The equipment in use varied from binoculars to 20" Dobsons. Besides
observations a number of different (film) cameras and CCDs were used as
well as a variety of video camera systems. Only a few observers used (or
reported) filters. I will put images to the Torricelli website as soon as
they are available to me.
What does this all mean?
There was no brightening in or around the crater "Torricelli B". This
contradicts the theory that the TLP from January 29th, 1983, might have
been a reflection of the suns light on the moons surface. For the TLP of
1983 we have to look for a different explanation. This is a backdraw for
the sun-glint theory but is not yet the end of it. The Torricelli campaign
was the first and so far the only dedicated mission of its kind and we
should wait for a few more observations before we put the theory finally to
Which options do still exist?
- Find out how much increase in brightness is theoretically possible
an area where the sun is mirrored. (Independant of extreme reflections on
- Find out if this area can be detected by a video camera in real life.
- How can one reliably calibrate such images?
- Might a ratio from infrared / visible light be helpfull?
- Are there any wave lenghts that are more favourable to these observations
- Are there any filters that will help in the observations?
- Plot a ground track of the suns mirror image on the lunar surface.
- Circulate this ground track together with the libration tracks and
selected libration features in the appropriate lunar observers circulars.
- Look at older TLP-reports: Are there any events that might be good
candidates? (TLP on the sun-lit side of the moon; near the equator;
extended periods of "brightening"; multiple saros' ago) A good source is
the "NASA Technical Report R-277" that lists (not confirms!) TLP reports up
to the first lunar landings in 1969. Consider that 2001 is two saros after
- Find and issue possible events for the next year to come.
- Create an institution that keeps track of all TLP reports (of all kind)
in a data base. Keep the data up to date and make the data base constantly
available on the Internet.
This was a highly successful world wide observing campaign. It worked
using the Internet as a communication platform. E-Mail and Internet access
seems to have reached a critical mass (in astronomical circles) to make
such a campaign possible.
A lot of observers who participated in the event had no or little previous
experience in lunar observations. Many people were simply fascinated. An
observation at the telescope is always something to look forward to and to
know that many other observers in the whole world were doing just the same
gave the whole event a special thrill.
I received many E-Mails telling me how much fun this was. Even the
unfamiliar conditions - observing the moon at (nearly) full moon in the
bright light with litte contrast - were new to many of the participants.
Some reported, how important it was for them, to look at the moon the days
before, so they could reliably identify Torricelli B during the night and
compare it to other features. One Mail told me of the missed opportunity
due to a sleepy brain and its inability to wake up while other autonomous
reactions of the body shut off the alarm clock. Also mentioned were key
situations in the early childhood with respect to Astronomy, notably the
first space missions and the manned lunar landings.
The interest in the moon has grown and so has the observation of it
earth. The upcoming lunar missions from ESA and Japan in the next few years
will surely amplify this interest. The return to the moon with robot space
craft and with manned missions at the end of this decade is under way. This
is a good reason to get familiar with the moon and its properties. We need
a sufficiently large work force and the intellectual background in ten
years time to make possible a lunar base and its supporting infrastructure.
Let's work and live together on Earth and on the Moon.
Have a good time.
THE LUNASCAN PROJECT (TLP): An Earth-Based Telescopic Imaging (EBTI)
program using live and recorded CCD technology to document and record
Lunar Transient Phenomena (LTPs).
The Lunascan Project HomePage
The Project's Mission Statement :