So when I was in college, I had a professor named Dr. Eldridge who spent some time with Dr. Oppenheimer, and therefore said things in an odd way. (Look, I don’t know if Oppenheimer had *anything* to do with Eldridge’s odd metaphors, but it adds to the story, ‘k?) And when we would talk about the innards of the atom he would always say, “Well, you know the best way to see what’s in your Christmas present. Blast it with a shotgun and see what flies out.” It was his way of explaining Rutherford’s gold foil experiment. Or any other experiment involving subatomic particles.
Looks like NASA has taken his cue in looking for water on the moon. This Friday, early morning, the American satellite LCROSS is going to slam into the southern side of the moon while scientists watch the resulting dust cloud for evidence of water. The impact won’t (shouldn’t) be visible to the unaided eye, but perhaps a 10-in. scope can pick it out.
The impactor is huge! At almost 5000 lbs, it’ll strike the moon with the energy of a small atomic bomb. Shortly after, the booster rocket, which weighs in at 1500 lbs itself, will strike a short distance away. There are a ton of websites with lots of good information about this all over the net. This is a good place to start. There’s information there for folks who’d like to observe or even submit images of the event as well.
And, just because it gives me yet another chance to post this image, here’s what it should look like through the right telescope.