Moon rocks and anniversaries

•Moon rocks are "first cousins" to terrestrial rocks. This fact indicates that the Earth and Moon have a common heritage.

•There is evidence of gold, silver, uranium, thorium, titanium, iron, zircon, rubies, garnets and phosphates on the Moon. Only future prospecting will determine if these metals and minerals exist in extractible quantities.

•Three new minerals that do not exist on Earth were discovered in Apollo 11 rocks. Perhaps these minerals might have industrial applications.

•Erosion is occurring on the Moon being caused by several processes: impacts, volcanism, moonquakes and solar/cosmic particle bombardment. Loose rocks scattered around the surface should leave behind evidence of trenching but the features are not visible. What filled up the trenches?

•Tektites are odd, meteorite-like natural glass rocks found on Earth. About 50 percent of the Moon is composed of similar, although not identical, natural glass-both impact and volcanic glasses. Apollo 11 astronauts didn't find tektites, but an Apollo 12 lunar rock contains material that is chemically identical to some tektites. On Sept. 22, 1969, NASA announced that researcher Dean Chapman had used a computer to trace the trajectory patterns of Australasian tektites back to a very surprising source-the lunar crater Tycho.

What's in the Sky: In the south look for the constellation Scorpius with its magnificent deep sky objects: M6 the Butterfly Cluster, and M7 the Ptolemy Cluster, near Shaula; the globular clusters M4 and M 80 are near Antares.

Lou Varricchio, M.Sc., is a former NASA science writer. You can learn more about the Moon in his book, "Inconstant Moon: Discovery and Controversy on the Way to Moon" (Xlibris/Random House). The book is available online at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com.

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