Summer Under the Stars to conclude Saturday with ‘Geology of the Moon,’ telescope viewing

NASA image of the far side of the Moon.
NASA image of the far side of the Moon.

Saturday, Aug. 6, is the last chance to attend NIU’s popular Summer Under the Stars program.

In June and July, attendees had an out-of-this-world time with the history of the Space Shuttle program and Telescope Night. At 7 p.m. Saturday in Davis Hall Room 315, you and your family can learn about Earth’s cosmic kid brother, the Moon.

Paul Stoddard from NIU’s Department of Geology will host a presentation on the composition of the Moon, its history, and lunar exploration.

Apparently, the Moon (that’s Moon with a capital M, thank you) isn’t just some hunk of space junk cluttering up the night sky. Stoddard says the Moon plays a crucial role in life here on Earth. “The Moon’s presence creates tides on Earth, and those certainly have had an effect. Also, the Moon’s light may well have played a role in the way nocturnal species have evolved and the way they live today.”

“And,” jokes Stoddard, “let’s not forget werewolves.”

While Stoddard did not express his opinion on the vampire-versus-werewolf debate sparked by “Twilight,” this reporter feels that his lunar leanings place him squarely in Team Jacob’s wolf pack.

After the Geology of the Moon presentation, participants are invited to the NIU Observatory in Davis Hall. Stoddard says visitors can expect to see “craters and mountain chains on the Moon as well as large impact basins filled with basaltic lava.” Stoddard says the Sea of Tranquility might also be visible.

The Lunar Module “Eagle” touched down July 20, 1969, in the Sea of Tranquility.
The Lunar Module “Eagle” touched down July 20, 1969, in the Sea of Tranquility.

The NIU Observatory is open to visitors until 11 p.m.

Although the Summer Under the Stars program is wrapping up, no one has to stop exploring the mysteries of the universe.

It’s important to learn about space, Stoddard says, “so we can learn about our place in the Universe, where we come from, and perhaps even where we’re going. Other planets provide unique ways for us to learn more about planets in general, and the Earth in particular, by allowing us to compare and contrast them.”

To find out more about NIU’s Summer Under the Stars program or learn about other cool, educational activities offered all year long, visit NIU STEM Outreach or contact Patricia Sievert, STEM Outreach coordinator, at (815) 753-1201 or psievert@niu.edu.

And remember to mark your calendar for STEMfest. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, we’re jam-packing NIU’s Convocation Center full of fun for the whole family, such as hands-on activities, presentations, games and exhibits from local and national STEM professionals. This annual event helps kids explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

by Gillian King-Cargile

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