College - Author 1

College of Science and Mathematics

Department - Author 1

Statistics Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Statistics



Primary Advisor

Gary Hughes


Man has been fascinated by the heavens since ancient times, yet there is still so much that we don’t know. This project was created by Dr. Gary Hughes with goal of obtaining information about the moon and other objects in the vicinity of the Earth. The project was mostly experimental in nature and there was no specific goal at the outset of the project. In the end the project focused on the moon and meteors that traveled through the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Throughout the month of August, students traveled to the Mount Barcroft Research Station in the Eastern Sierras to gather data. The data on the moon was gathered using a camera hooked up to a telescope that had been fitted with a silver coated mirror that allowed it to reflect infrared light. The data was gathered during a four hour period when the moon was highest in the sky. A MATLAB program was used to gather data in the form of fifteen second long tiff files. While at the mountain, meteor data was also collected using a camera with a wideangle lens. This was pointed at the sky for long periods of time while data was collected. This was then run through a MATLAB program that determined whether a meteor had been detected. By the end of our time at Mount Barcroft, nearly two terabytes of data had been collected. When I returned home, I began to work on a MATLAB script that would analyze and interpret all of the data we had gathered on the moon. Each tiff file contained 450 frames that captured a portion of the moon. My goal was to combine these frames into a single image that contained the surface temperature data for the entire moon. The process of gathering the moon data into one simple picture required many steps. First I had to read each frame from each file into MATLAB so it could be used. For each of these frames I used an edge detection function to find the edge of the moon. I applied Taubin’s circle fit method to the data in order to find the center and radius of the moon in each frame. The center of the moon was used to align each frame. The center of the moon in each frame was placed at the center of a large matrix. I also created a separate matrix to keep track of how many frames had contained each cell in the matrix. This matrix was used in the end to find an average temperature for each cell in the matrix. Finally, the matrix was converted from infrared units into degrees and displayed. In the end, I had a full picture of the moon that showed the surface temperature at every point on the moon. My analysis focused on the data obtained during the night of the full moon. I found an average surface temperature of approximately 40°C across the moon with slightly higher temperatures in the center than on the edges.