Wow! Penn Astronomy Beats Light Pollution, Announces First Ever Picture of Moon
April 18, 2019 at 11:10 am
While the science world has been abuzz with talk of the first-ever image of a black hole, Penn Astronomy quietly announced something arguably far more impressive.
Last Wednesday saw the conclusion of a vast Penn-led collaboration incorporating telescopes stationed from DRL to Du Bois to a pair of binoculars operated by Joe Baldwin (C ‘95) who forgot to come back from his study abroad and just stayed in Botswana.
The goal? For decades, Penn Astronomy has struggled with the inherent downside of being an urban astronomy department: chronic light pollution.
“It’s bedeviled us for years,” commented Dr. Julia Andrews, the study’s leader. “With the light and smog from downtown, you can barely catch anything. That’s why this moon sighting is so, so crucial.”
Using the same collaborative-capture approach employed by the black hole imaging team, the various Penn teams snatched what images of moonlight they could. These images were pieced together to create a stunning, eight by eight pixel grayscale rendering of the moon.
“It took millions of dollars and man-hours,” noted Dr. Andrews, “but there are some things you just can’t put a price on. Now, the smog-smothered residents of Philadelphia will know that we are not alone in the cosmos.”
“In fact,” she continued, “we’re expecting a rare sighting of the sun within the year!”