Astronomer observes “Artificial Cave” on surface of The Moon?
February 2003 issue of Sky and Telescope.
Stephen James O’Meara noted, “And so it was on the evening of December 19,1996, when, on a whim, I turned my 4-inch (10-centimeter) f/5 refractor (telescope) to the Moon at dusk. The Moon was three days past first quarter, and, despite the visual chaos that marks the day-night terminator, my eye was instinctively drawn to a tiny shadow inside the crater Copernicus. At 23X the interior structure of the crater’s north wall looked curious. It was as if someone had spray-painted a spiral pattern, like graffiti, across its face. When I increased the magnification fivefold, the spiral pattern tightened to a dark center that, for all I could tell, was a hole in the crater wall as black as squid ink.
The sight reminded me of one of the high caves occupied by ancient cliff dwellers in the USA’s Southwest.
I immediately began drawing the feature at about 7:50 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time. When I finished, I penned ‘the Cave in Copernicus’ next to the drawing and called it ‘hypnotic!’ By 9:30 p.m., the rotation of the Moon had carried the shadow away from the Cave, which lost definition and eventually disappeared.
Wondering if the same conditions of light and shadow would repeat during the next lunation, I tried, but failed, to see it. In fact, a combination of factors-bad weather, travel plans, wrong Sun illumination angle–prevented me from seeing the Cave again until the evening of January 7, 1998, more than a year after my initial sighting.
Alas, even on that night I missed the key time to see the Cave by about an hour.
Although I could see some sections of the spiral structure in the north wall, it was not complete. And the black hole of the Cave, which made my eyes widen with wonder in 1996, was but a bland, rectangular patch of deep penumbra.
An observation on February 6, 1998 brought further disappointment. This time I could see the outer and inner spiral, but no central cavity–just another penumbral shading. Obviously, seeing the Cave again was not going to be as simple as I thought.” Editor’s comments: In his article, O’Meara provided a list of dates favourable for seeing the Cave, which may be a natural lunar feature. The most favourable viewing is at the following dates and UTC times:
February 11, 2003 at 18.2 UTC
March 13, 2003 at 8.0 UTC
April 11, 2003 at 20.8 UTC
May 11, 2003 at 8.6 UTC
June 9, 2003 at 19.6 UTC
July 9, 2003 at 6.2 UTC
On November 24, 1966, Lunar Orbiter 2 was 46 kilometres (27 miles) above the Moon’s surface, looking north, when it caught a dramatic, oblique view of Copernicus. The crater’s central peaks are below centre, and beyond them (on the north wall) is the region of O’Meara’s Cave.
On 26 th September 2005 a program called “First on the Moon: The Untold Story” was broadcast by The Science Channel. About 14min 30sec into the program, there was a 3.5 minute segment that described a UFO encounter that Apollo 11 experienced during its flight to the moon.
This was probably the first time that Buzz Aldrin, an Apollo 11 astronaut, had ever publicly recounted any
UFO experience associated with the Apollo 11 moon mission.
There follows a transcription of the UFO segment:
Narrator: But three days and 200,000 miles into the flight, Mission Control did miss the significance of a cryptic message from Apollo 11.
Apollo 11: ‘Do you have any idea where the S-IVB is with respect to us?
Mission Control: ‘Stand-by’
Narrator: The Crew required information on the current position of the S-IVB, the final stage of the rocket which had been jettisoned away 2 days earlier. This short message hid an extraordinary turn of events: Apollo 11 wasn’t alone in space.
Buzz Aldrin: There was something out there that, uh, was close enough to be observed and what could it be?
Narrator: Traveling along side of Apollo 11 was a mysterious object like this one (a ringed object at close range is shown), filmed on a later mission. If it wasn’t part of their own rocket, it could only be one thing, a UFO.
Aldrin: Mike (Collins) decided he thought he could see it in the telescope and he was able to do that and when it was in one position, that had a series of ellipses, but when you made it real sharp it was sort of L shaped. That didn’t tell us very much.
Dr. David Baker (Apollo 11 Senior Scientist): NASA knew very little about, um, the object reported by the Apollo 11 crew. It was obviously an unidentified flying object, but such objects were not uncommon and the history of even earth orbit space flights going back over the previous years indicated that several crews saw objects.
Narrator: Despite having a clear view of the UFO, the crew were wary of reporting it to Mission Control.
Aldrin: Now, obviously, the three of us were not going to blurt out, ‘Hey Houston we got something moving along side of us and we don’t know what it is, you know, can you tell us what it is?’ We weren’t about to do that, cause we know that those transmissions would be heard by all sorts of people and who knows what somebody would have demanded that we turn back because of Aliens or whatever the reason is, so we didn’t do that but we did decide we’d just cautiously ask Houston where, how far away was the S-IVB?
Narrator: Unaware of the drama unfolding in space, Mission Control radioed the position back to Apollo 11.
Mission Control: Apollo 11, Houston. The S-IVB is about 6,000 nautical miles from you now, over.
Aldrin: And a few moments later, why they came back and said something like it was 6,000 miles away because of the maneuver, so we really didn’t think we were looking at something that far away, so we decided that after a while of watching it, it was time to go to sleep and not to talk about it anymore until we came back and (went through) debriefing.
Narrator: To this day, whatever it was that the crew saw has never been positively identified or officially acknowledged.
Dr. David Baker: There were a lot of people within the program who went off later and became convinced that UFOs existed and that lead to some concern on NASA’s part where they got the agreement of the crew never to publicly talk about these things for fear of ridicule.