What are Transient Lunar Phenomena?

Aristarchus was a diligent astronomer and mathematician who lived from 310 B.C. to 230 B.C. He was the first to present the theory that the Sun stood still and the planets revolved around it. His revolutionary theory conflicted with the theories of his predecessors, Aristotle and Ptolemy, and he received little or no support from other astronomers. In the 16th century, Copernicus developed the heliocentric model that is accepted today. His theory was controversial at the time since it conflicted with his predecessors, Aristotle and Ptolemy, but the Copernican Theory was eventually accepted. Aristarchus was ahead of his time: he even placed the planets in the order as we know them today.

Aristarchus is also the name of a mysterious spot on the moon, just one of the few moon anomalies that have been observed since the dawn of civilization.

For centuries, people have reported seeing flashing lights on the moon. They come in different colors, all emanating from a specific area of the moon. The activity is intermittent. An amber colored light may suddenly appear and then disappear just seconds later.

These reports even predate telescopes. Once telescopes were invented in 1608, astronomers became even more fascinated with the intermittent flashing lights. Italian astronomer Giovanni Riccioli, who studied the flashing moon lights, named the isolated area where the lights seemed to be coming from after Aristarchus.

Now, we know that Aristarchus is a crater almost the size of the Grand Canyon. For centuries, transient lunar phenomenon has captured the attention of professional and amateur astronomers, but is there still more to the story? What are transient lunar phenomena? Could extraterrestrial life have anything to do with it?

The 1966 Transient Lunar Phenomena Middlehurst Report

In its simplest terms, transient lunar phenomena is an unusual change in appearance of the moon. These moon anomalies have been well documented throughout the ages.

In 1966, a transient lunar phenomena report was compiled for NASA by four of the top scientists and astronomers of the time. Barbara Middlehurst, a well-known astronomer, worked with her team member, Patrick Craig, and others. They prepared a detailed chronology of lunar events that occurred from June 1950 to October 1967. The report was published in 1968, prior to the first moon landing.

Middlehurst provided detailed documentation on sightings of moving objects, flashing lights and many other odd events on the lunar surface. About 60 percent of the activity was around Aristarchus or based on activity coming from the crater itself. Some examples of her entries include the following:

  • October 25, 1966: “Large bright area obscuring half of crater wall. It was not present on Oct. 24"
  • April 22, 1967: “Aristarchus so bright that it could be seen by the naked eye"
  • August 13, 1967: “Glow in interior in crater”

Day after day, year after year, Middlehurst documented what she saw. Clearly, something still is happening at the Aristarchus crater.

The Apollo 11 Mission

Many audio tapes and photos of the moon missions, particularly the most important ones from Apollo 11, are mysteriously missing. One copy of a debriefing log taken after the astronauts had returned from their first landing on the moon reveals a conversation with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Michael Collins and an unknown speaker. They discussed that one request had been for them to look at the crater Aristarchus to see if they "could see any glow or evidence of observations that had been made by people on the ground.”

Aldrin reported seeing one area that was lit up, but he thought it wasn't near Aristarchus. He said it struck him as “unusual,” but he expected the “pictures” would show it. The discussion continued and they referenced “the highly illuminated parts of the inside of the crater wall” and thought that the area around Aristarchus “was also more illuminated.” Aldrin concluded that the lights around and emanating from Aristarchus were brighter “than anything else we could see in either direction.” They also mentioned that the photos taken during the trip could shed light on what they had seen. But, the photos are either missing or of such poor quality it is difficult to use them in a meaningful way.

The Clementine Space Probe

In 1994, a joint task force between NASA and the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization sent a probe to the moon as part of their Clementine Project. The probe had several tasks, such as testing how sensors and spacecraft components could stand up to “extended exposure to the space environment.”

Another task of the Clementine probe was to fly over the Aristarchus Crater and take photos. Astronomers who viewed the photos reported seeing a clearly visible blue dome-shaped structure when the Aristarchus “lights are on.”

Even though the photos are in low resolution and highly pixelated, astronomers believe there is a dome structure in the Aristarchus Crater. One photo, dated September 7, 2007, shows an “electric blue” color emanating from the crater with “dome-like structures” in the crater itself.

Explanations for Transient Lunar Phenomena

Scientists often provide explanations for transient lunar phenomena. The official interpretations fall into four categories: outgassing, impact events, electrostatic phenomena, and unfavorable observation conditions. Could the attempts be designed to obscure the truth? Some astronomers believe that the activity around Aristarchus indicates the presence of extraterrestrials. Some have seen not just flashing lights in the area, but moving objects.

There is a strong indication that the dome-shaped structure is a fusion reactor. A former NASA manager of the photo department claims that the government has evidence of ancient alien cities on the moon. These were discovered mostly during the Apollo program. If there is evidence of ancient cities, could the activity around the Aristarchus Crater indicate current extraterrestrial life?

Transient lunar phenomena have fascinated observers throughout history. Professionals and amateurs throughout the world have reported unusual activity on and around the moon. Well-documented, ongoing phenomena continue to puzzle moongazers.

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