By Coggin Heeringa, Interpretive Naturalist, Crossroads at Big Creek, Inc.
The first of October will be a very special day for Crossroads and the Door Peninsula Astronomical Society (DPAS) and people across the globe who will participate in a celebration of lunar observation, science, and exploration on the International Observe the Moon Night 2022. According to NASA, which organizes this annual observance, Crossroads is one of 1171 (and counting) educational institutions and observatories participating this year.
Friends of Crossroads will add to the wonder of Observe the Moon Night by sponsoring a Candlelight Walk from the Main Campus Parking Lot on Michigan Street, up the hill to the Astronomy Campus (where parking will be available for those who choose not to walk). There, members of DPAS will guide guests in exploring the moon with the naked-eye, astronomical binoculars, and telescope observations.
If the night is cloudy, the event will go on using images from the new Leif Everson Observatory telescope and NASA videos in the Stonecipher Astronomy Center.
Learning about this year’s observance, some of the participants of last year’s “Walk While the Moon is Full” event expressed disappointment that the moon would be in first quarter phase on October 1. And it will! But, the organizers at NASA knew what they were doing when they selected the night.
In the book Wisconsin Starwatch, Mike Lynch explains, “It is called the first quarter because the moon is one-quarter through its cycle of phases. It doesn’t mean we will see a quarter of the moon. We actually see a half moon because half of the sunlight part of the moon faces the earth.
“This is a wonderful time to view our lunar neighbor with a telescope. Especially take a look along what is known as the ‘terminator’ which is the line between the darkened part of the moon and the sunlit part.
“Along the terminator, the shadows are long, revealing features that are otherwise harder to see. You can even see the mountain peaks poking above the shadows on the dark side of the terminator.”
While you can observe the moon from anywhere it is clear, it is far more fun and enlightening to join DPAS for this special event, which is one of many astronomy outreach programs underwritten with a grant from the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium.
Down to earth, in your own backyard, for example, invasive species may be growing like weeds. So, the Door County Master Gardeners Association, in collaboration with Wild Ones of the Door Peninsula and Crossroads, will bring Sam Koyen, the coordinator of the Door County Invasive Species Team (DCIST) to the Collins Learning Center on Thursday, October 6, at 6:30 p.m. to present “Back Yard Invasives: It’s Not All Bad News.” The one-hour presentation will cover an introduction to invasive species and offer hints on how to identify potentially problematic plants. Sam also will suggest native species that landowners can plant to help support local wildlife.
Junior Nature Club is resuming on Wednesday mornings from 10:00-11:00 a.m.. This is a one-hour program designed for pre-school children and their adult companions. Activities are held outdoors (unless weather is severe) and involve some hiking. This week, children will explore the colors of fall wildflowers. Meet on the porch of the Collins Learning Center.