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Partial lunar eclipse a reminder of the value of Moon property

December 31, 2009 - SPACE

Lunar eclipses only redden the Moon as it aligns within Earth's shadow. They don't offer the drama of solar eclipses, which can turn night into day. The otherwise unexceptional partial eclipse on Dec 31 could make headlines, however, as it nearly coincides with other newsworthy lunar events of 2009. The first was the announcement in September that there is water on the Moon, a discovery that will make lunar real estate more valuable and place pressure on the 1979 United Nations Moon Agreement. The 30th anniversary of the pact falls just 12 days before the partial eclipse.

Lunar eclipses only redden the Moon as it aligns within Earth's shadow. They don't offer the drama of solar eclipses, which can turn night into day. The otherwise unexceptional partial eclipse on Dec 31 could make headlines, however, as it nearly coincides with other newsworthy lunar events of 2009. The first was the announcement in September that there is water on the Moon. The discovery will make lunar real estate more valuable and place pressure on the 1979 United Nations Moon Agreement. The 30th anniversary of the pact falls just 12 days before the partial eclipse. The partial eclipse will be visible from Africa, Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and Western Asia. Four reports published in a Sep 2009 issue of the journal Science show clear evidence of water, likely frozen, on the desert surfaces of both the Moon and Mars. The UN agreement, buttressed by the 1067 Outer Space Agreement, declares that the Moon is the common property of mankind. The potential exploiters of the ambiguous declaration include the private entities entering the space race in increasing numbers and vendors of lunar real estate. Companies are reported to be considering everything from mining the lunar surface to building extraterrestrial resorts on it. None of the spacefaring nations has ratified the treaty. Supporters hope for a flurry of ratifications before the anniversary. The discovery of water on the Moon could scuttle those hopes: The presence of water increases both the territorial and commercial value of Earth's satellite.

NASA finds ice on the Moon and on Mars (Reuters 24 Sep 2009)

Moon Agreement:

The Moon Treaty: Fact and Fiction (CS Monitor 2 Apr 1980)

Lunar land grab (Space.com 2 Feb 2004)

Lunar Embassy

Lunar Registry

Lunar land real estate

Date written/update: 2009-12-31