As if to escape all the attention it’s been getting as a Blue Moon, the moon last night was anything but blue. It rose a deep red and remained orange for a long time in the hazy air. Members of our local astronomy club, the Arrowhead Astronomical Society, gather on weekends in Duluth’s Canal Park – a great place to see ships come and go on Lake Superior – whenever the weather’s nice and there’s interesting stuff to show the public.
Last night was perfect with an inviting moon and a great crowd. Will Wiethoff and Richie Townsend set up their scopes and invited passersby to stop for a look. The smell of deep-fried mini-donuts and cheese curds wafted from nearby Crabby Bill’s as people lined up for a look at lunar craters like Tycho and Copernicus.
There were at least several jokes about seeing the flag on the moon. When I explained that the Lunar Reconniassance Orbiter had taken the very first pictures of the flag this year, one fellow was incredulous. He thought that much of what the astronauts left on the moon had eroded away. So we talked about how the lack of an atmosphere and liquid water slows the erosion process down, preserving the Apollo artifacts for millions of years to come.
Anyway, I took a few photos of the scene I thought you might enjoy. Public outreach in astronomy gives both ways. People love looking at the moon and planets, and the amateur astronomers that share their time and expertise get to enjoy the public’s reaction to the what they in the scope.
It’s also fun to field questions and hear opinions about this and that in the cosmos. These exchanges help me better understand what role science plays in their lives.