Overcast skies bring disappointing cancellation of International Observe the Moon Night

Saturday night proved to be a disappointment to lunar enthusiasts of all ages who had hoped to participate in International Observe the Moon Night on the lawn south of the Math Administration building.  Unfortunately for dozens who came in vain, the overcast sky prompted Denise Kaisler to cancel the event.

“We are sorry, but due to the cloud cover overhead we will have to cancel our viewing tonight,” said Kaisler.

Jackie Peraltza, a student in David Kary’s astronomy class brought her family to get a good look at the moon. Her daughter, Jessie Morales, who proudly gave her age as 5 1/2, said “Yeah, because I never saw it before.”

Peraltza said she came to the event, hoping to learn. “I’ve never seen the moon through a telescope,” she added.

Douglas Brooks, also brought his son, Jordan, who wanted to get a look at the moon through binoculars.  Astronomy journalist Scott Lewis, who helped to coordinate the event, accommodated him with high-powered binoculars. Jordan was excited to see the moon so close, but disappointed he could not look through a telescope.

“It would have been nice to actually apply what we’ve been reading,” said Christine Garland, another student in Kary’s astronomy class.  She also mentioned her class is currently studying the phases of the moon Saturday night, it was in its waxing gibbous phase.


NASA hosts first InOMN 


In 2010, the first InOMN was hosted by National Aeronautics and Space Administration to raise awareness about the scientific importance of the moon, Earth’s nearest celestial neighbor. The event was created to keep the public current with scientific discoveries such as what causes an eclipse of the moon, or why it doesn’t fall down.

The InOMN team consists of science educators and moon enthusiasts from educational facilities, business and many non-profit government organizations around the world.

The event is meant to celebrate the celestial body that has influenced the ebb and flow of life since the beginning of time. Examining the moon encourages the study of how the solar system formed or how to plan future human mission to the lunar surface.


 Viewing the Moon from Earth


How we see the moon with our naked eye, or even through binoculars, is interpreted many ways by various cultures around the world.

Depending on the vantage point of the viewer, its many craters, mountains and cliffs, lunar rilles and flat plains create patters and optical illusions.  What many North Americans have nicknamed “the man in the moon,” others in China perceive as the silhouette of a rabbit, known as the companion to the mythological Moon Goddess, Chang’e.

Those interested in doing their own lunar observation need neither a telescope nor binoculars to view the moon’s many craters.  They are some of the easiest features to examine, even though the moon is 238,857 miles away from the earth.  For example, Tycho crater on the moon’s southern hemisphere is visible even to the naked eye.  It is the brightest spot on the moon, but a telescope easily reveals it to be a crater.

What can not be observed by the naked eye is that the temperature at the celestial body’s surface ranges from 93°C at night in its polar regions to 111°C in daytime equatorial regions. The length of a day is equivalent to 27.3 earth days.


 Wink at the moon


Saturday’s event was dedicated to Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, who died Aug. 25, 2012.

“We are looking forward to the opportunity to honor the legacy of Neil Armstrong through InOMN by encouraging all of our participants to simultaneously wink at the moon,” said Brooke Hsu, director of InOMN, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “We will be asking InOMN hosts around the world to do the same.”

The attendees that did briefly stay, gathered and winked with a thumbs up and shouted with pride “Here’s to you, Neil!”