Skip to main content

Age-old lunar mystery

 From its earliest history, the moon was thought to be less geologically active than the Earth. But what is that stuff its plumes have been seen venting? TheBigRetort uncovers the pages of a forgotten lunar history:

Paisley Herald and Renfrewshire Advertiser - Saturday 09 January 1869

LUNAR VOLCANOES. On this subject the Academy of Sciences has received curious communication from Dr Montucci. The facts of the case are these: —At the request of the Bureau des Longitudes, the Messageries Imperiales had established a temporary observatory on Sarah Island, opposite Aden, for the purpose of viewing the eclipse of the 18th of August last.

The sky happened to be rather cloudy on that day, and the observer, M. De Crety, could not properly watch the phenomena until after the totality, when the weather cleared up. By that time one-third of the sun's disc was already uncovered, and M. De Crety then perceived three protuberances, not on the sun's limb, but on the moon's, a thing unheard of until then.

They were in the shape of three triangles with their bases attached to the border of our satellite, which they never quitted.

'I observed,' says M. de Crety, 'three luminous protuberances on the moons limb; they were feebly illuminated, and resembled the tops of mountains receiving light from the solar rays.’

‘Fifteen minutes later, two-thirds of the sun's disc having emerged from the moon, the same appendages were seen more strongly illuminated, and better distinguishable from the lunar disc; their summits had the appearance of metal in a state of fusion.’

‘After another quarter of an hour, the central protuberance diminished in altitude,' &c.

From this description Dr Montucci concludes that these excrescences have been either gaseous or formed of solid matter in a state of great division, as ashes; and, admitting that an optical illusion is here out of the question, the observer having made seven diagrams of the phenomenon, he endeavours to explain the mystery by supposing that at the time of the eclipse there was a chain of volcanoes in a state of activity on the posterior hemisphere of the moon, and close to its border, and that what was seen was simply the smoke or ashes-ejected from the craters.

He shows by calculation that an observer's eye could just skim the crest of a lunar mountain 18,000 feet high (there are much larger ones), situated on the posterior surface at a distance of five degrees from the border, so that the whole jet might be seen, while the crater would be out of sight. This, of course, is an extreme case, but the volcano might be larger or smaller, nearer the border or farther off, without endangering the principle on which his explanation rests.

End report


Popular posts from this blog

Professor Joan Ginther: Do the numbers add up?

A Texan aged 63 has won at scratch-off card games every two years since 2006. In 1993 she also won a lottery bringing her total winnings to over $20m. Which is amazingly coincidental. But what if a seemingly ordinary person somehow managed to narrow the odds and beat the system, goddamnit? An American newspaper might say slim pickin's. TheBigRetort says...

Joan Rae Ginther’s luck began in 1993, when she won $5.4 million dollars on a game known as “Lotto Texas“.

Another win thirteen years later in 2006 netted her $2m.

Curiously, every two years since that date, she has won at scratch off games, two cards having been bought at her local store.

In 1993 she won $5.4 million; the odds: 1 in 15.8 million; in 2006 she won $2 million in a scratch off game; the odds: 1 in 1,028,338; in 2008 she won $3 million in a scratch off; odds: 1 in 909,000.

Her latest win in 2010, also a scratch off, was for $10 million; odds of winning: 1 in 1,200,000.

In fact experts contend that the odds of winning four…

Linda Ann Weston shock: escaped prison first time round

Police in Philadelphia recently discovered four abused and vulnerable adults shackled together in a dank cellar where they were being held captive, with dogs for cell mates. Officers also discovered a teenage girl. Three people have been arrested. It has been widely claimed that one of the captors, Linda Ann Weston, 51, served time in prison for a similar crime. TheBigRetort… but she didn’t.

In November 1981, Bernado Ramos was reported missing by his mother.

His body was found in a closet two weeks later.

Linda Weston, 23, and Venus Weston, 21 his lover, were later charged and convicted with his captivity and murder.

Apparently Bernado had been the father of Venus’s child but refused to support it. It was his last mistake.

The Weston sisters had beat him with a broomstick and eventually starved him to death in the cupboard.

A remarkably similar modus operandi when compared with the current charges.

However, Linda Weston, now charged with abduction and enslavement in the more recen…

Harry Bensley: The Great Iron Mask Hoax

[Engraving, Copyright (c) Jim Westergard. Used with his kind permission.]
On the 1st January 1908, following a remarkable wager, a man wearing an iron mask set off on an astonishing 30,000 mile journey around the world - then disappeared. TheBigRetort... The Great Iron Mask HoaxIn previous posts I detailed the extraordinary saga of 33-year-old Harry Bensley, who accepted a bet made between an American philanthropist and an English nobleman: to push a pram around the world, with his face encased inside an iron mask, for a purse of $100,000.
Many sighting were recorded of "The Mask” at that time but then... he inexplicably vanished. TheBigRetort: where in the world did The Mask go?Almost one year after the wager made between Harry Bensley aka The Man in the Iron Mask, a publication known as “ Answers” (December 19th, 1908, pi63) received a response to this same question; it has remained buried until now.

The respondent – who remained anonymous - had a very interesting tale to tell:…