This lunar photo was captured by one of Monmouth College's telescopes on International Observe the Moon Night, Sept. 22.
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Monmouth College’s physics department and its Society of Physics Students hosted an astronomical observing session earlier this month as part of the Third Annual International Observe the Moon Night.
“This was the second year that we have hosted the event,” said assistant professor of physics Tim Stiles. “We had a great turnout, with about 70 people stopping by to look through the telescopes at the moon.”
Of those, nearly half were area grade school or high school students. Activities for the children were available, such as creating craters by dropping rocks into a flat container of sand and discussing the phases of the moon by eating parts of Oreo cookies.
“I am glad we got to share the experience with local youth,” said Caitlin Kozelichki, a freshman from Alexis. “The children seemed in awe while looking at the moon.”
“We had two telescopes,” said Stiles. “One provided a wide field of view that could observe most of the moon and another that produced a greatly magnified view of a small part of the moon’s surface, helping viewers see detail of a few of the larger craters on the moon.”
“The weather fought us most of the night, but it was incredibly satisfying to glimpse the all the craters of the moon when the clouds broke,” said junior Matt Anderson of Roseville, who serves as vice president of the SPS. “The most satisfying thing about working with the children was watching them fight over their position in line. I love seeing youth’s eagerness to pursue science.”
“I had never before used a telescope to look at the moon, so I wasn’t sure what to expect,” said Kozelichki. “I didn’t realize just how closely I would be able to see the moon. It was absolutely amazing! It was a great experience for all ages, and I am so glad I got the opportunity to be a part of a worldwide event.”
The physics department will host additional public viewing sessions this fall. Currently, noted Stiles, there are few planets visible in the evening sky. That will change in late October, when Jupiter will start being visible at sunset in the east.
“We will plan to have an observing session sometime in early or mid-November, when Jupiter and the Pleiades will be visible,” he said, adding, “I am really looking forward to having the observatory on the new building (Center for Science and Business) next fall. We will be able to permanently mount a telescope and have easy access to observing the stars.”
While the physics department currently has two medium-sized reflector telescopes, Stiles looks forward to a large 14- or 16-inch diameter telescope being installed in the new observatory, which he said will allow the physics department to expand public viewing sessions and work on astronomy and astrophysics projects with students.