Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Over the moon with lunar achievement

Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday joins Science Editor Dave Hawksett on a trip to the home of astronomer Sir Patrick Moore to unveil the largest digital lunar mosaic...

Sir Alfred Patrick Caldwell Moore, CBE, HonFRS, FRAS, is every bit the eccentric English gentleman – impeccably dressed, monocle squeezed securely up to his right eye, gin and tonic in his hand. A childhood hero of mine, the amateur astronomer is the only living person who can claim to have met one of the Wright brothers and Neil Armstrong. A mean xylophonist, he's also played a duet with Albert Einstein (Patrick on the piano, Albert on the violin)!

Sir Patrick's other claim to fame is his Guinness World Records™-recognized achievement of hosting the TV same show – The Sky at Night (BBC) ­ – since 1957. I had the chance to meet Patrick recently, when he invited me to his home in Selsey, on the south coast of England. There, our Science Editor David Hawksett and I had the honour of presenting the old gent with his certificate, which he immediately hung on the wall beside countless other awards, diplomas and plaudits.


The main event of day, however, was the unveiling of the world's largest digital lunar mosaic. The impressive image – a richly detailed snapshot of the Moon on the ninth day of its cycle – is 87.4 megapixels in size, and was pieced together from 288 shots taken on 4 April this year by a team of amateur astro-imagers. A total of 1.1 terabytes of data were collected and painstaking pieced together to create the most detailed Earth-based image of the Moon.

Inspired by their tutor Patrick, ­ who allowed the team to use his garden-based observatory, ­ the image was created to mark the anniversary of the Moon landings, and to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

"This is a monumental image, worthy of the International Year of Astronomy 2009," said Nick Howes, who is part of the imaging team, and who came up with the original plan for the record attempt. "It's also our way of honouring Sir Patrick's incredible work in mapping the Moon for the Russian and American Moon missions in the 1960s, on this, the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing."

Congratulations to Nick Howes, Damian Peach, Bruce Kingsley, Dave Tyler, Trevor Little, Nick Smith, Pete Lawrence, Mark Irving, Leanne Irving, David Mason and Ninian Boyle (all UK).


Comments :

0 comments to “Over the moon with lunar achievement”

Post a Comment