A transient lunar phenomenon (TLP), or lunar transient phenomenon (LTP), is a short-lived light, color, or change in appearance on the lunar surface. Claims of short-lived lunar phenomena go back at least 1,000 years, with some having been observed independently by multiple witnesses or reputable scientists. Nevertheless, the majority of transient lunar phenomenon reports are irreproducible and do not possess adequate control experiments that could be used to distinguish among alternative hypotheses to explain their origins. Thus, few reports concerning these phenomena are ever published in peer reviewed scientific journals, and the lunar scientific community rarely discusses these observations. Most lunar scientists will acknowledge that transient events such as outgassing and impact cratering do occur over geologic time: the controversy lies in the frequency of such events. The term was created by Patrick Moore during his co-authoring of NASA Technical Report R-277 Chronological Catalog of Reported Lunar Events, published in 1968.Reports of transient lunar phenomena range from foggy patches to permanent changes of the lunar landscape. Cameron classifies these as (1) gaseous, involving mists and other forms of obscuration, (2) reddish colorations, (3) green, blue or violet colorations, (4) brightenings, and (5) darkenings. Two extensive catalogs of transient lunar phenomena exist, with the most recent tallying 2,254 events going back to the 6th century. Of the most reliable of these events, at least one-third come from the vicinity of the Aristarchus plateau. A few of the more famous historical events of transient phenomena include the following: On June 18, 1178, five or more monks from Canterbury reported an upheaval on the moon shortly after sunset. "There was a bright new moon, and as usual in that phase its horns were tilted toward the east; and suddenly the upper horn split in two. From the midpoint of this division a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out, over a considerable distance, fire,
hot coals, and sparks. Meanwhile the body of the moon which was below writhed, as it were, in anxiety, and, to put it in the words of those who reported it to me and saw it with their own eyes, the moon throbbed like a wounded snake. Afterwards it resumed its proper state. This phenomenon was repeated a dozen times or more, the flame assuming various twisting shapes at random and then returning to normal. Then after these transformations the moon from horn to horn, that is along its whole length, took on a blackish appearance." In 1976, Jack Hartung proposed that this described the formation of the Giordano Bruno crater. During the night of April 19, 1787, the famous British astronomer Sir William Herschel noticed three red glowing spots on the dark part of the moon. He informed King George III and other astronomers of his observations. Herschel attributed the phenomena to erupting volcanoes and perceived the luminosity of the brightest of the three as greater than the brightness of a comet that had been discovered on April 10. His observations were made while an aurora borealis (northern lights) rippled above Padua, Italy. Aurora activity that far south from the Arctic Circle was very rare. Padua's display and Herschel's observations had happened a few days before the sunspot number had peaked in May 1787. In 1866, the experienced lunar observer and mapmaker J. F. Julius Schmidt made the claim that Linne crater had changed its appearance. Based on drawings made earlier by J. H. Schroter, as well as personal observations and drawings made between 1841 and 1843, he stated that the crater "at the time of oblique illumination cannot at all be seen" (his emphasis), whereas at high illumination, it was visible as a bright spot. Based on repeat observations, he further stated that "Linne can never be seen under any illumination as a crater of the normal type" and that "a local change has taken place." Today, Linne is visible as a normal young impact crater with a diameter of about 1.5 miles (2.4 km).