If you have nothing to do on Friday, October 9, at 7.31am Eastern/4.31am Pacific (10.31pm AEDST), reserve that spot for some serious space fireworks. At that time you can see how NASA bombs the Moon from orbit using this huge thing.
Click to enlarge
That's a Centaur, the upper stage of the Atlas 5 rocket that took the Lunar Crater Observing and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) to our beloved Selene. It will impact against the Cabeus crater at 9000km/h, causing another crater about one-third the size of a football field.
The Cabeus crater was selected because it's likely to show definitive proof of water in the moon, based on the information from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, Lunar Prospector, Chandrayaan-1, and JAXA's Kaguya spacecraft. The bombing is designed to measure the proportion of water—ice to dust ratio—in lunar regolith.
Here's the impact crater, selected based on information from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), Lunar Prospector (LP), Chandrayaan-1 and JAXA's Kaguya spacecraft.
Here's an image showing a similar crater to the one that the Centaur stage is projected to make.
The effects of the impact will be observable from Earth using telescopes larger than 10 inches.
The effects of the impact—a plume projected to be 50km high—will be observable from Earth using telescopes larger than 10 inches. The good news is that you don't have to own such a huge telescope to see it. In fact, you have three options to enjoy the show.
• If you're in the US, attend one of the many public events organised by observatories throughout the country. You can see a list of events here.
• Watch NASA TV, which will broadcast the event.
I'm so excited that I'm wearing my Apollo underpants already.