Boyne City astronomer: Apollo Mission moon rocks still yielding crucial data

Moon rocks collected by the Apollo missions 40-plus-years-ago are still providing valuable data.


Moon rocks collected by the Apollo missions 40-plus-years-ago are still providing valuable data.

A special form of iron known as iron-60 created only by a supernova has been found in moon rock. It confirms a hypothesis that about 2 million years ago a supernova occurred relatively nearby.

The idea that a nearby supernova was the source of iron-60 on Earth was first proposed in 1999 when iron-60 was found in deep-sea crust.


The moon should have also been showered by iron-60 particles from that same supernova, and those iron-60 particles would have been well-preserved in the nearly inert lunar environment.

The amount of iron-60 detected in moon rocks seems to indicate the supernova was about 300 light-years away.

Moons rocks are still helping us to understand the universe. Until next time wishing you clear skies.

The Northern Michigan Astronomy Club is sponsoring an open house beginning at 8:30 pm on May 12 at the Wildwood Observatory located just north of Boyne City.

The program will include a tour of the observatory and a presentation by Mary Stewart Adams, Director of the Headlands International Dark Sky Park.

Weather permitting, telescopes will be set up for night sky observing following the program.

All are invited to attend.

The Wildwood Observatory, located at 01825 Wildwood Heights Road, is a small private observatory built by Rod and Michelle Cortright.

In addition to observing it is also used for astrophotography.

Rod Cortright is an Astrophotographer and Vice President of NOMAC


This is a mosaic image, one of the largest ever taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope of the Crab Nebula, a six-light-year-wide expanding remnant of a star’s supernova explosion. Japanese and Chinese astronomers recorded this violent event nearly 1,000 years ago in 1054. Photo by NASA, Public Domain