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College to take part in International Observe the Moon Night

Barry McNamara
MONMOUTH, Ill. – Two telescopes in Monmouth College’s Adolphson Observatory will be pointed at the lunar landscape on Oct. 28 as the College observes International Observe the Moon Night.

Free and open to the public, the event will be held from 7 to 9:30 p.m. in the Center for Science and Business. It will provide an opportunity to use the College’s 20-inch Trubeck Telescope as well as its 8-inch telescope, which is actually better suited for observing the moon.

“Viewers will see the Apollo landing site, as well as different trenches and landmarks,” said Bridgette Davey ’19 of Monticello, Ill., a member of the College’s Physics Club, which is hosting the event with the College’s physics department.

In addition to observing the moon and having guides point out constellations, a range of activities for children and families is planned, including the popular “eat Oreos into the phases of moon,” said Davey. She said another fun activity is creating moon-like craters by throwing objects into a sandbox.

“We also encourage people to bring their cell phones,” said Davey. “Last year, we were able to take good photos of the moon by placing the cell phones up to the telescope.”

The international event was planned for a night when the moon would be in a near-ideal phase for viewing, said Associate Professor of Physics Ashwani Kumar, who was on hand for the first of the College’s seven moon observation nights in 2011.

“It will be just one day past its first quarter stage, so this is a very good time to see it,” he said. “When the moon is full, it’s almost too bright when seen through a telescope.”

The observation portion of the evening will be weather-dependent, but Davey said the other activities will go on as planned, regardless of cloud cover.

One of the activities might involve moon trivia, and Kumar was asked to provide a sample question. He said the moon is drifting away from Earth at the rate of one centimeter per year.

“That calculation can be made by shining a laser on one of the mirrors (or retroreflectors) that was left behind by one of the Apollo crews,” said Kumar.

The activities will be held in the Veterans Memorial Great Room on the main level of the Center for Science and Business. It is handicap-accessible, but the observatory itself, which is located on the roof on the building, is not.