On this date in 1945, during the final days of World War II, the moon rose at 10:30 p.m. in the Philippine Sea, 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 USS Indianapolis was delivering components of the first atomic bomb to Tinian Island for the bombing of Hiroshima.
Fastcast: Splediforiously humid.