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International observe the moon night (InOMN) at Explorit

This article appeared in the October 11, 2013 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

By David Takemoto-Weerts

Special to the Enterprise

Join Explorit on Saturday, October 12 at 7:00 p.m. for the next Davis Astronomy Club event. The evening's talk will be given by David Takemoto-Weerts, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab's Solar System Ambassador, and will include interesting facts and figures about our earth's only natural satellite. 

It’s been over forty years since astronaut Gene Cernan left the last “bootprint” on the Moon. Before stepping onto the ladder to re-enter the Challenger lunar module on December 14, 1972, Commander Cernan said, "I'm on the surface; and, as I take man's last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I'd like to just say what I believe history will record. That America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus–Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17."

There have been at least nineteen successful unmanned orbital or landing lunar missions from the USA, Russia, China, India, Europe and Japan since Apollo 17’s departure. 

The latest mission, LADEE, launched from NASA’s Wallop’s Island facility in Virginia on September 6, entered lunar orbit on October 6, and will achieve planned orbit on the same day as the Davis Astronomy Club’s next meeting, October 12. 

“LADEE” is an acronym for “Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer”. What!? An atmosphere on the Moon? 

We all know that the Moon lacks any significant amount of oxygen or air. An astronaut removing his helmet there would not last long. 

However, observations by orbiting Apollo astronauts and subsequent research suggests a tenuous atmosphere. Data collected by LADEE about the ultra-thin lunar atmosphere, environmental influences on lunar dust, and conditions near the surface will help scientists understand other planetary bodies as well.

NASA Ames Director Pete Worden said LADEE “This is probably our last best chance to study the pristine Moon before there is a lot of human activity there changing things.” 

Come celebrate the arrival of LADEE in lunar orbit and the “International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN)” with the Davis Astronomy Club at the Explorit Science Center on Saturday night, October 12, beginning at 7 pm.  

InOMN is an annual event dedicated to encouraging people to ‘look up’ and take notice of our nearest neighbor, the Moon. 

A short introduction to lunar exploration and LADEE will lead off the program. Weather permitting (and the forecast is for clear skies!) we will go outside to observe the Moon and other celestial objects. Bring binoculars, telescopes and an inquiring mind!

Admission to Davis Astronomy Club events at Explorit are free and open to all ages. For more information, visit http://www.explorit.org/programs/astronomy-club

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Explorit’s coming events:

• Saturday, October 19, 2013 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. you’re invited to our October fundraiser "Touched by Science: Celebrating 30 years of Science Education and Learning". Enjoy food, wine, and much more. To buy tickets call 530-756-0191 or visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/437033.  General Admission tickets are $75. A service fee applies to the ticket price when purchasing on-line. Students (age 18 and up) teachers, Explorit Members and UC Davis Alumni Association Members can purchase discounted tickets.

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Explorit Science Center is located at 3141 5th St. For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit http://www.explorit.org, or “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/explorit.fb.

 

 

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