March 13, 2008

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The Great Migration

image by Mark Zambelli

Please note that the following is a purely fictional tale that I hope will complement rather than detract from my image covering several fascinating regions of the Moon...
Shortly after local dawn warmed the north western shores of Mare Frigoris it started. The Avians, as they became known, unfurled their metre-square dorsal sails and caught the glare of the sunlight streaming onto the floor of the shallow J. Herschel crater. In the frictionless vacuum they lifted and set off on their monthly migration tacking southwards over the rim and across the lavas of Mare Frigoris seeking Harpalus as their first beacon. With their speed building by the minute they reached the western edge of Oceanus Procellarum in good time after travelling along the eastern realms of Sinus Roris and it was only a matter of hours before they were on the approach to the Aristarchus Plateau; the last beacon before the 'feeding grounds' to the south.

It was on the second day's EVA that both the Apollo 18 crew members spotted the Avians. The astronauts had used their lunar rover to explore further into the rich volcanic splendour of the Marius hills and were on their return with a bounty of data when they noticed the flashing glints of sunlight from the Avians solar-sails. Touching down all around them were dozens of collapsing sails with their tendrils raking the mineral rich regolith in a feeding frenzy... the Avians would stay here in their swarm until local evening when the sun had lowered enough to provide them with the lift they needed to start their journey northwards and home. What they made of the dense concentration of minerals bound together in the form of the Apollo 18 landing stage, now vacated, we will never know, nor what they made of the white and blue orb in the sky above them that they depended on for navigation.

Mark Zambelli

Technical Details
2008 Feb 18, 21:02hrs-21:17hrs. Mosaic made with 10" Skywatcher Newtonian Reflector (f/4.7) with 2x barlow, EQ-6 Mount, Philips Toucam Pro 2 SC 1.5 (non raw mode), Seeing 5/10, "Registax 4" and "iMerge" with Photoshop CS2 for resizing and slight unsharp-masking

Related Links
Rükl plates: 2,3,9,10,18,19,29
The Cancelled Apollo Flights (Apollo 18, had it flown, was reportedly to have landed near Schröter's Valley in the Aristarchus Plateau area).

Yesterday's LPOD: Crater Rings, Spots and Rays During Full Moon

Tomorrow's LPOD: A Missed Opportunity?


(1) I don't mean to be a wet blanket, but I wonder if this is the right place to publish fictional accounts of activities on the Moon? I consider the Moon Wiki and the LPOD sites as places for serious science and information. Isn't there a risk that someone will read fictional material on this site and think that it is real?


(2) Bill, I am probably to blame - I have written three fictional LPODs in the last 4 years, perhaps encouraging others. I do agree that the goal of LPOD is to present scientific accounts of features shown on the images. I hope there will be some great new amateur images waiting when I return, and I hope to have some more info from the LPSC.

(3) Bill & Chuck -

I'm not sure "blame" is the right word or that any apology is required. Although currently hosted on the same website, the Lunar Picture of the Day is something different from the-Moon Wiki. Mark has gone to considerable effort to create an imaginative "flight of fancy" that describes and connects the features visible in his technically well-documented picture. The attentive reader should have little difficulty determining that there was no Apollo 18, and that any events connected with it must be fictional.

Although science fiction is not my own personal taste, I think Mark should be applauded for his contribution. I sincerely hope three other equally talented writer/imagers will come forward with something of equal or greater interest to fill the three slots remaining available for user-contributed LPOD's. There seems no shortage of topics, but there does seem to be a distinct lack of contributors sharing Mark's interest, energy and enthusiasm.

-- Jim Mosher

(4) Sorry Bill, I took the liberty of finding a fictional way to highlight areas of interest in my image posted and I should've taken more care to add that this was purely a 'flight of fancy' as Jim has pointed out. I have now amended the text accordingly. I had my concerns that to some readers this could've been misleading (as you outlined) as I imagine not everyone dropping in would be aware that the Apollo missions were cancelled after 17. I would like to point out that my life-long interest in the moon is not only aesthetic but also scientific and I most certainly do not believe in any form of creatures inhabiting the Moon.
Mark Zambelli

(5) Jim makes some good points, Mark. I certainly join in applauding your work. The image you posted is excellent.



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