You’ve heard about the Man In the Moon and the Lady in the Moon… If you’re into lunar observing then you know about the Cow Jumping Over the Moon and the Rabbit in the Moon, too. But have you ever heard about the Basketball Player In The Moon? Well, step inside and find out more…
First discovered by Ed Murray and published in ALPO’s monthly “The Lunar Observer” and in NASA’s Dr Tony Phillips November 13, 2008 issue of Spaceweather.com, the “basketball player” is a compilation of lunar features that resemble… well… a basketball player! How did it’s discovery come about? Just ask Ed.
“Like many amateur astronomers, I guess I’ve always daydreamed just a little bit about possibly discovering a faint fuzzy that turns out to be a bright comet, but very quickly, I have to come down to Earth because living in suburban Philadelphia, with our weather and horrid light pollution, the chance of that happening are slim to none. So, I’ve had to be content with the memories of being able to see the solar eclipse from Hawaii, where I happened to see the Milky Way in all it’s glory from the 9,000 ft level visitors center, the annular eclipse of 1994 in New York… seeing the shadow bands … not on a white sheet but freshly cut green grass, numerous Aurorae and everything else…. until one night….”
Yes! Yes. That one grand night when one plus one makes two. And two suddenly makes sense! “Like many, I did have that National Geographic Map of The Moon but after numerous moves across the country and two college dorms, it, like many things, lay in tatters and eventually found it’s way to the great map room in the sky. So, you might understand how happy I was to find out that National Geographic had re-issued it and I could purchase another copy and so it remained opposite my bed for a few years… Until one night last year… When I looked at it and saw the basketball player, and promptly forgot it. Saw it a second time and forgot it. Saw it a third time, early on May 12. 2008 and realized that maybe this is something I should check out.”
And check it out he did. As a Dark Sky Advocate and once President of the Bucks-Mont. Astronomical Association, Ed double checked what he could see from his maps with what he could see against the sky and came to the same conclusion. It looks like a basketball player. Like all good observers, he turned in his findings to as many organizations and observing clubs as he could. Of course, Fritz Zwicky would have sure understood the response he got from the “professionals”, but the rest of the world will be happy to know that the Basketball Player has been added to the roles of the Unofficial Lunar Nomenclature site and acclaimed by SpaceWeather.
When can you see the Basketball Player In The Moon? When it rises tonight would be a great time to start. This is when the lunar east limb will appear to make the “player” be upright and easiest to spot. Later in the evening, as the Moon progresses across the sky, the view will appear to turn sideways. Still there… Just oriented a little differently! If you’re clouded out tonight, try again tomorrow – or whenever the Moon nears Full.
In the meantime? Why not wish Ed a big round of congratulations for an observing job – and discovery – well done!