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Bring the Universe to Your Classroom!

Friday, July 19, 2019

"On the Moon Again!"

On July 20th, 1969, 600 million people on all the continents followed the first step of a man on the Moon, together with their family or friends, around a radio, and sometimes a television set. Fifty years later, "On the Moon Again" was created to share this enthusiasm for the Moon again in a global, universal movement, transcending all borders.

Insight Observatory and Blake Planetarium collaborated on the evening of July, 12th 2019, by participating in the global event "On the Moon Again".
Insight Observatory and Blake Planetarium collaborated on the evening of July, 12th 2019, by participating in the global event "On the Moon Again".

Scientists worldwide gathered behind "On the Moon Again" and invited Insight Observatory to participate in this unifying event. Their support committee promoted the values of sharing and cooperation. "On the Moon Again" was an initiative of French scientists who coordinated this event with the contribution of thousands of volunteers. Once Insight Observatory was invited to join this global event, we immediately approached the Blake Planetarium located in Plymouth, MA to see if they would have an interest in putting on a joint event with Insight Observatory. The planetarium was very responsive, to say the least. Being that this event was for public outreach, the planetarium was kind enough to offer four showings of the planetarium's program "Earth, Moon, Sun", every half-hour free of charge to the public. This collaboration with Insight Observatory was highly publicized and the result was many reserving their spot ahead of time.

Interior view of the Blake Planetarium theater prior to the evening's event "On the Moon Again".
Interior view of the Blake Planetarium theater prior to the evening's event "On the Moon Again".

While the programs were running in the planetarium theater by Blake Planetarium Program Provider, Steven Davies, I represented Insight Observatory's contribution by providing a small a Celestron 2.4" refractor telescope set up in the front of the school where the planetarium is located. Using this small instrument would make it easy to pick up and run inside with in the event the skies opened up. Although the telescope was small and designed for the novice astronomer, it still provided decent views of the moon. There was also a back-up plan in case we were completely clouded out in Plymouth, MA. John Evelan, the owner of SkyPi Remote Observatory had his Insight Observatory affiliate telescope ATEO-2B, the Celestron 11" f/10 planetary telescope ready to broadcast images of the moon into the planetarium theater. Unfortunately, he was challenged by cloud coverage in western New Mexico and could only provide a few images of the moon.

Yours truly giving a thumbs-up after the clouds gave way to the moon, Dr. Patt Steiner providing views of the moon through her refractor telescope, and a quick shot of the moon through the Celestron refractor using my iPhone.
Yours truly giving a thumbs-up after the clouds gave way to the moon, Dr. Patt Steiner providing views of the moon through her refractor telescope, and a quick shot of the moon through the Celestron refractor using my iPhone.

As folks were arriving and departing the planetarium, I had the waxing gibbous moon in the telescope's eyepiece for all to see. The weather started out unsettled however fortunately cleared out for most of the outdoor part of the event. Nearly all of the attendees that stopped by to look through the telescope had never seen the moon up so close before. The groups of adults and children of all ages were amazed by the detailed view of the craters, mountain ranges, and mare (seas) they could see with such a small backyard telescope. It was most rewarding guiding them where to look through the telescope for Mare Tranquillitatis (the Sea of Tranquility), the landing spot of Apollo 11.

Blake Planetarium has many public programs throughout the year. You can see what programs they have to offer by visiting bit.ly/BLAKEPLANET.

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