Strategy & Astronomer Observation Campaign

images of NASA IRTF ground-based observatory, Hubble Space Telescope, and amateur astronomers

Observe the LCROSS impacts!

Date & Time:
Projected lunar impact is on October 9, 2009 at 11:30 UT (7:30 a.m. EDT, 4:30 a.m. PDT), +/- 30 minutes.

The impact time will be refined as the mission progresses. Two weeks prior to impact, the impact time will be known to within a second.
Check back on this webpage for the most up-to-date timing information.

LCROSS will impact at the south pole of the Moon. The final site selection will be made 30 days prior to impact.

Check back on this webpage for the most up-to-date impact location information:

On Monday, June 29, 05:23 UT
LCROSS flyby captured by Paul Mortfield, Backyard Astronomer
Sierra Remote Observatories. See animation of LCROSS in flight.

26 June 2009:

From Dan Andrews:
The latest shots that show the LCROSS mission continuing on its journey.

June 23:

LCROSS executed a swingby of the Moon.
See Recap Video and Additional Images!

There are a variety of ground-based and orbital observatories that can observe the dust and water plumes caused by the LCROSS impacts. The LCROSS team encourages observations of the impacts to further our understanding of impact physics, lunar resources (water), and lunar geology and origins (polar soil and regolith), and thereby support scientific and exploration objectives. The LCROSS Project is committed to working with the observational scientists to provide mission information that is critical to the planning and proposal of observations. In this way the LCROSS Project aims to develop a coordinated observation campaign utilizing ground-based and space-based observational assets.

With the impacts of the Centaur and Shepherding Spacecraft occurring within a permanently-shadowed crater near one of the lunar poles, the impacts themselves may be obscured by the crater rim as seen from Earth and Earth orbit. However, ground-based and orbital observatories will observe the dust and water vapor plume caused by the two impacts into the lunar surface. The impact ejecta cloud should be in view of Earth assets just several seconds after impact and will peak in brightness around 30-100 seconds after impact.

You may download the Astronomer Justification document. This text describes information relevant to the LCROSS mission. Astronomers may use this sample text in support of writing observing proposals to observe the LCROSS impacts and thereby participate in the LCROSS mission. Specific sections of this document include: Introduction, The LCROSS Mission, Mission Relevance and Impact to State of Knowledge, LCROSS Science Goals, LCROSS Shepherding Spacecraft (S/S-C) Measurement Goals, LCROSS Shepherding Spacecraft Payload, Impact Characterization, Lunar Polar Hydrogen - What we Know and Don't Know, The History of Lunar Volatiles: Sources and Sinks, Additional Sample Text: Experimental Design, Description of Experiment.

For additional information regarding the LCROSS Observation Campaign, please contact Jennifer Heldmann, Observation Campaign Coordinator (

earth & moon lighting conditions for october 8, 2009
Earth and Moon lighting conditions on the expected night of impact (October 8, 2009)

map shoing locations of planned observatories
Map showing locations of planned professional observatories participating in the LCROSS Observation Campaign
list of planned obsrvation sites
Listing and Status of Planned Observatories

The combination of ground-based, orbital and in-situ platforms span the necessary temporal and spatial scales: from seconds to days and from meters to kilometers.

Plume expectations
mission timesline & observing oppotunities

Amateur Observations

Mission scientists estimate that the Centaur impact plume may be visible through amateur-class telescopes with apertures as small as 10 to 12 inches. The LCROSS mission will actively solicit images of the impact from the public. These images will provide a valuable addition to the archive of data chronicling the impact and its aftermath. Prior to launch, amateurs are working with the science team in imaging potential impact target areas in order to refine telescope pointing strategies for the impact. To participate in the LCROSS Amateur Observation Campaign, visit the LCROSS_Observation group.

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