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S.M. Smith, J.K. Wilson, J. Baumgardner, M. Mendillo (Center for Space Physics, Boston University)
All-sky CCD imaging has been shown to be useful in the monitoring of the Moon's transient atmosphere. Two days after the peak of the 1998 Leonid meteor shower an extended region of neutral sodium emission was detected in the night sky near the anti-solar/lunar points using a bare-CCD imaging system (Smith et al., 1999). The emission feature has been attributed to an extended tail of neutral sodium gas originating from the Moon. This tail is always present but is only detectable for 2-3 nights centered on the time of new Moon.
The feature has been detected subsequently during several lunations, and it is found to be variable in brightness (20--90 Rayleighs) from month to month. Several processes (solar and meteoric in origin) are believed to be responsible for the production of lunar Na and all-sky imaging provides a method of routinely monitoring the variations in the source processes on a monthly basis.
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