Source: The Strolling Astronomer, Journal of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers, Volume 39, Number 3, pp. 135138, February 1997.
Fast Moving Lunar Phenomena

Note: The author has not seen FMOs personally. The reference 'Arkhipov 1994b' is a catalog of FMO events which were reported by various observers.
Table 1: FMO Distribution on the Moon
Since only 66 usable data points were available from our list, a contoursmoothing technique had to be utilized to demonstrate FMO distribution patterns across the lunar surface. The number (k) of points inside a circle with a circle of 0.3 lunar radii was calculated. This procedure was applied by scanning the entire lunar disc with this circle. For every position of the circle center, the ratio (f) of k and its average value were calculated. The resulting map of the f parameter is shown in Figure 1 (p.137).
The only statistically significant feature on the map is the excess of points in the Mare Imbrium region (A) relative to the Mare NectarisMare Foecunditatis region (B). Indeed, 19 data points fall inside the f=1.5 contour of Region A. The area within this contour constitutes 0.131 of the entire visible lunar disk. The probability that >19 points would fall within this contour by chance on the basis of the binominal distribution is found as follows:
where M=19 and N=66. This gives a probability of 0.0006. With respect to Region B only one data point falls within the f<0.5 radius, yeilding a probability of <1 point inside this area, comprising 0.148 of the visible surface, of W_{B}=0.0003. Obviously these calculated probabilities are sufficiently low to contradict the expected uniform distribution of FMO events should they be of terrestrial origin.
The apparent correlation of FMO events with certain lunar regions for what are presumably random events is certainly unusual, however, possible selection effects must also be considered.
First, it is possible that the probability of observing lunar meteors is affected by the albedo of the lunar background. The ratio of the visual albedo of the brightest crater Aristarchus to the darkest Grimaldi, is only 3 or a magnitude difference of 1.19 (Fessenkov, 1962). The cumulative number of meteors brighter than magnitude m is proportional to 10^{(0.3*m)} for 10<m<+10 (Astapovich, 1958). Consequently, the background effect cannot account for the differences in meteor visualization by a factor of 10^{0.3*1.19} or 2.28 times. The average value of the fparameter is M/N_{p}=2.20 in Region A (where f>1.5). Clearly the lunar background differences cannot account for a 22fold difference.
Figure 1: Contour map of the relative density (f) of the start & end points of FMO trajectories across the lunar disk, where 1.0 is the mean of f. The selenographic orientation is also indicated.
Second, some regions of the Moon might be observed more frequently due to favorable solar illumination and the restricted field of view of the telescope. However, lighting conditions should be identical for the lunar Southern and Northern hemispheres, yet there is asymetry with respect to the distribution of points; 39 in the north and 25 in the south. The probability of such a difference being due to chance is 0.052 (M=39; N=64; p=0.5), implying at a 95 percent confidence level that the northsouth asymetry is real. in addition, most observers whose data were analyzed here, used small telescopes with low magnification, and thereby examined almost the entire lunar disk. Conceivably, the search for LTP in the Plato region could draw an observer's attention towards Mare Imbrium, resulting in an unintentional bias toward observing that area. However, Aristarchus, the "Mecca" of all LTP hunters (Cameron 1977), is outside region A, suggesting such a bias is in fact unimportant in this context. Collectively, the above indicate that biased selection effects do not explain the reported asymmetry in FMO distribution patterns.
Finally, some FMOs exhibit curved, nonmeteoric trajectories. Let me cite one such original report. On 1995 AUG. 15, using a small refractor, Yaremenko (1983) stated: "A luminous body similar to a 3rd magnitude star flew at about 0.2 lunar radii above the disk, parallel to its edge (limb). The body flew about a third of the circumference (it continued for 45 seconds) and [apparently] landed on the lunar surface with a steep trajectory." his drawing is reproduced in Figure 2. Similar examples of paths are shown in Figure 35 (p. 138). Although curved trajectories are very rare events, they must be taken into account.
Figure 2: The circular trajectory of a starlike object near the lunar limb observed by V.V. Yaremenko, in midAugust, 1955 at about 17h00m UT, from Novocherkask, USSR, with a homemade refracter (aperture and magnification not given). Original drawing by the observer.
Figure 3: Trajectory of white line circling the Full Moon for 56 s before merging with the lunar surface. This phenomenon was observed in October or November, 195455 with the naked eye by V.I. Timkov from Ordjonikidze, USSR. Drawing by observer.
Figure 4. The curious trajectory of a starlike object near the crescent Moon, observed on 1968 Jul by M. Beres from TusnadBai, Rumania (Hobana and Weverbergh, 1976). The object appeared to disappear behind the Moon. (No telescope or other details given.)
Figure 5: The twisted trajectory of a dark object observed by E.V. Arsykhin on 1992 Mar 15, 16h45m UT and lasting about 2.5 s. Observed with a 65mm Newtonian from Moscow, Russia. Drawing by observer.
Conclusions
Reports about lunar FMOs clearly warrant serious attention. It can be argued that at least some FMOs occupy circumlunar locations, but clearly more data are needed before this can be verified. The author would greatly appreciate receiving reports about any moving phenomena in the vicinity of, or over, the lunar disk. Please contact: Alexey V. Arkhipov, Institute of Radio Astronomy, 4, Krasnoznamennaya St., Kharkov 310002, Ukraine.
Acknowledgements
The author is very grateful to Winifred S. Cameron, David C. Darling, Francis G. Graham, Gerald H. North, David J. Robinson, and John E. Westfall for their help with the literature. I also wish to thank E.V. Arsykhin, I.S. Brukhanov, N.V. Kuleshov, N.V. Likhachev, V.I. Timkov, and V.V. Yaremenko for their personal communications about their FMO observations.
References