DR. SKY BLOG
Space X booster rocket to collide with moon in early March
Feb 2, 2022, 2:00 PM
With all the excitement and success of the Space X rocket program, we come to an interesting story of a past rocket booster which will impact the moon on or about March 4.
This unintentional event will slam the 8,598-pound upper stage of a Falcon 9 booster into an area on the far side of the moon.
The near location of the impact will take place around 5:26 a.m. Arizona time on March 4 on the outer edge of the Hertzsprung crater.
The Hertzsprung crater is located here.
The booster rocket will be traveling at well over 5,000 mph upon impact and will not be visible from the Earth, as this event will take place on the lunar far side.
The booster rocket is thought to be tumbling in its orbit around the moon and the impact will create a small crater, as if the moon needs more craters!
This is not the first time that the moon has been hit by man made rocket bodies or spacecraft.
The first of these events occurred Sept. 13, 1959, when the Soviet Luna 2 impacted the moon.
More on the Luna 2 mission.
There have been some Apollo-era upper stages which have impacted the moon too.
On April 13, 1970, the upper Apollo 13 Saturn IVB stage hit the moon near the region known as Mare Cognitum.
Here is what the Saturn IVB stage looks like.
An Apollo 14 booster rocket also hit the moon and created a 115-foot crater and had the equivalent energy of 10 tons of TNT.
This is what the impact looked like.
Finally, a rocket body was planned on impacting the moon back in 2009. This was the LCROSS mission.
It slammed the upper stage of a Centaur rocket into the crater Cabeus. This experiment was conducted to explore the results of an impact in a region of the moon which may have contained water ice.
The LCROSS mission is detailed here.
The moon will be in full view during February and the new lunar cycle began with the new moon or “dark of the moon” Tuesday. This is also the start of the Chinese New Year, with 2022 being the Year of the Tiger.
More on the Year of the Tiger.
The moon reaches its first quarter phase Feb. 8, with the next full moon – the full snow moon – on the 16th at 9:56 a.m. Arizona time.
The last quarter moon is Feb. 23.
The moon is always a great place to begin your observation in astronomy and binoculars and a telescope will enhance the experience.
To print your own monthly star chart, click here.
To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.
Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.
Podcasts are available here.