On July 29, 1945, during the final days of World War II, as the moon rose at 10:30 p.m. in the Philippine Sea, it was peeking through an overcast sky. Because of the glow, Japanese submariners targeted the silhouette of a cruiser and torpedoed it. If not for the moon glow, the USS Indianapolis would have passed unnoticed.
As noted in a previous column, SKY and TELESCOPE magazine predicted a repeat of this celestial scene on July 29, 2002, over the Philippine Sea, marking the 57th anniversary of the disaster. Nine hundred of the 1,200 sailors escaped the attack; only 317 survived four days of exposure and shark attacks. The Indianapolis had just delivered components of an atomic bomb to Tinian Island for the bombing of Hiroshima.