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Flying over Eddington crater…

Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m proud Secretary of Kendal’s astronomical society – The Eddington Astronomical Society of Kendal. We used to be called just The Eddington Astronomical Society, but people kept asking us where Eddington is. We had to tell them that no. Eddington isn’t a place – Eddington was a person, a very famous astronomer. This astronomer, in fact.

Sir Arthur Eddington was, I suppose, the Professor Brian Cox of his time – without the boyish good looks and hair blowing in the wind on a hilltop! He was an astronomy populariser, always on the radio and in the newspapers, and writing books, spreading the word about astronomy and the universe. Very fitting then, that in Kendal, the town of Eddington’s birth, should a) have an astronomical society and b) have it named after Eddington. The Eddington AS was born just before the last Venus transit, brought into the world by Kendal astronomer Philip Stobbart, and since then has grown to become the largest and most active AS in Cumbria. We’re all very proud of that! 🙂

But sadly still not many people here in Kendal know much about Eddington, or his work or achievements. We’re going to work on that. One thing we want to do is tell people how the world of astronomy has honoured Eddington by naming things “Out there” after him. An asteroid bears Eddington’s name, and there’s also a large crater on the Moon named after him. Unfortunately it’s very hard to see from here – on Earth, I mean, not just from Kendal! – because it’s very close to the Moon’s limb…

… and so is only really visible properly for a few precious days. Here’s a photo I took of it a while ago…

That’s just a very low tech pic I took by sticking a digital camera next to the eyepiece of my 4.5″ scope and clicking away until something half-decent appeared! Here’s a rather better view of Eddington, courtesy of Google Moon…

…and a view from another angle, which clearly shows Eddington is a “what’s left of a crater” crater, flooded with lava from one side, and with a range of high hills on the other…

Now, as I said, it’s hard to see Eddington because it’s along a very poor line of sight for us Earthlings. But luckily we don’t have to just rely on our own eyes any more to see lunar features – we have hardware flying around the Moon, with cameras, and occasionally they take pictures of the things we want to see. And, as luck would have it, the GRAIL spacecraft recently flew over Eddington crater, and took a bunch of pictures with its low resolution MoonKam! Yaaay! New images of Eddington! Here’s one of the “raw” images…

…and with a bit of clearing up and messing about with, you can get this…

(and before anyone says anything yes, I know that’s not the same image, I’m just making a point… )

Anyway, turns out GRAIL took a whole bunch of images of Eddington as it flew over, and you know what “a whole bunch of images” means don’t you?


Here then is a 7 frame gif animation of GRAIL images, which – if you use your imagination a little – gives you the impression of flying over Eddington crater… (you MIGHT need to click on the picture below to start the animation)

I know it’s just a choppy animation made of rather low-resolution images, but I think that’s brilliant! Not the animation, but the chance to see a crater on the Moon named after one of the famous sons of my town, the same astronomer that town’s astronomical society was named after! 🙂


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