Astronomy From The Moon

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The Moon has many advantages as a location for making astronomical observations and measurements, and it is very likely to become humankind's principal scientific base for astronomy. For this reason alone, the Moon should be given a high priority for human development.

From the time of Galileo until the beginning of the twentieth century, the primary means by which astronomers derived knowledge of the universe was by making telescopic observations of the visible light that was emitted or reflected by objects in space. Significant advances in astronomy were made from these telescopic observations; however, the data that were gathered were incomplete because visible light represents only a small fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum from which the universe may be observed.

In the twentieth century, technical advances have allowed astronomers to expand their investigations to include the entire range of the electromagnetic spectrum, thus greatly expanding our knowledge of the universe. The divisions and characteristics of the electromagnetic spectrum from which astronomical observations may be made are listed in Table 2.1.

2 On Earth, mechanical vibrators are often used instead of explosives because they create a repeatable and well-characterized signal. However, these mechanical vibrators may not be as cost-effective as old-fashioned explosives for the early seismic exploration on the Moon.

Table 2.1: Properties of the electromagnetic spectrum

Photon

Wavelength

Photon energy

Objects studied

category

(cm)

(eV)

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