Gold Coast Astronomer and regular guest presenter at Kingfisher Bay Resort, Noeleen Lowndes, will be taking full advantage of Fraser Island’s clear winter skies to present a series of interactive talks about the moon’s craters, lunar seas and majestic mountains on September 22 and 23 – timed perfectly to coincide with the worldwide festivities.
“The Moon is our closest celestial object in the universe at approximately 363,000kms from Earth and is moving further away at a rate of about an inch a year,” Ms Lowndes said. “The International Observe the Moon Night - with the theme 'Under The Same Moon' - is a global astronomical event where thousands will simultaneously view our nearest neighbor, and Fraser’s clear night skies offer perfect visibility.”
“Approximately 59% of the Moon’s surface is visible to us here on earth and we always see the same side of the moon, so these sessions are a great way to introduce armchair astronomers to the lunar landscape to the night sky and to reading sky charts,” she said. “And, as technology has advanced, we’ll also be looking at how to use astronomy apps on iPhones and IPads to accurately view the night sky from the comfort of home.”
The International Observe The Moon sessions will run from 7.30pm in Kingfisher Bay Resort’s Centre Complex on Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23 and are free to resort guests. Attendees will also be taken on a tour of the night sky and will also have an opportunity to view the Moon and other stellar objects through a large telescope and binoculars.
“From 1969 to 1972 – through NASA’s Apollo missions – twelve human beings visited and walked on its surface, conducted scientific experiments and collecting Moon rocks.
“Since then, there have also been many unmanned missions that have surveyed the Moon’s surface in preparation for our return, but NASA has no immediate plans to send a human back to the moon – so we content ourselves with observations from afar.”
But this weekend it is not all about the Moon.
“Weather permitting, we’ll also be looking at the constellations that pepper the winter sky including our Southern Cross and the Coalsack Nebula,” she said.
Mrs Lowndes, who began her astronomy career more than 20 years ago, has been heavily involved with raising community awareness about Saturn and the Cassini-Hugens space craft orbiting Saturn's rings and icy moons for the past ten years. She is currently the President of the Southern Astronomical Society and is a member of NASA’s Saturn Observation Campaign monitoring the Cassini spacecraft’s mission to Saturn.
Moon Facts For Luna-tics!
• The distance from Earth: 363,301km
• The earth is not round, but egg shaped with the large end pointed towards earth
• The word lunatic comes from when doctors thought the insane were ‘moonstruck’
• The total weight of the Moon is 74 sextillion kilograms
• The Orbital speed of the Moon is 3680km per hour
• The Moon was called ‘The Moon’ because until Galileo’s discovery in 1610, people didn’t know other moons existed
• Moonquakes are millions of times less powerful than earthquakes.