Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
June 8, 1996
The First Lunar Observatory
Credit: NASA, Apollo 16
Explanation: The first and only lunar astronomical observatory was deployed by the Apollo 16 crew in 1972. The Far Ultraviolet Camera / Spectrograph used a 3-inch diameter telescope to photograph the Earth, various nebulae, star clusters, and the Large Magellanic Cloud. The camera is seen above placed in the shadow of the Lunar Module so it would not overheat. A leg of the Lunar Module enters the picture from the left. The camera took pictures in ultraviolet light which would normally be blocked by the Earth's atmosphere. The Far Ultraviolet Camera was created by George Carruthers (NRL), had a field of view of 20 degrees, and could detect stars having visual magnitude brighter than 11. 178 images were recorded in a film cartridge which was returned to Earth. The observatory stands on the Moon even today.
Authors & editors:
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.