The recent LCROSS mission that crashed a rocket booster into the crater Cabeus near the South Pole of the Moon aroused (or re-aroused) a lot of interest in the Moon - who ever heard of crater Cabeus, much less Cabeus A before this event? We just celebrated the 40th anniversary of the first Moon landings and Apollo 11, but 40th anniversaries of Apollos 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17 are in the near future. The rocket booster used by LCROSS 'also' delivered the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter which is bound to stir up even more interest as it images the Moon to something like 18 inches of resolution and the pictures are released to the public. There is the very real prospect of human landings again, too.
All this reminds me of my own slipping knowledge of the Moon and the convenience of the Broemmelsiek Astronomy Area, including the Observatory, makes me think it is time to put forth an increased effort to get to know the Moon. The Astronomical League offers a Lunar observing club certificate and pin to members who observer 100 features of the Moon so we are announcing a coordinated plan to earn these awards locally. Of the 100 targets, 18 are visible to the naked eye, 46 require at least binoculars to see well and only 36 are telescopic objects. All of them are potentially observable in 14 days or so, starting with new Moon. These targets can be observed over many lunar cycles but we will try to get it done in the minimum time (sort of a mini-Messier marathon?).
Accordingly, we have reserved the Broemmelsiek Observatory for the following dates where we hope to pick up the indicated number of targets. Of course, the weather may give us trouble and we may have to schedule follow-up sessions into the next Lunar cycle but it will be fun to try. We also plan to do this again and again as long as there is interest. Even though most of these dates are week nights, we can be finished by 9:00 pm which will allow those needing their sleep to participate, too.
We will plan to use the 10-inch telescope in the observatory, but more telescopes will certainly be welcome to set up on the pads at the Astronomy Sites. We will provide a check list for the objects and will have one or more Lunar Atlases there, including the Virtual Moon Atlas on a laptop computer. If anyone wishes to get a head start, the list of targets required by the AL is in the PDF in the Attachments section below as is a text file with the objects sorted according to their appearance by age of the Moon. Participants are urged to bring a notebook or something similar to keep an observing log to record what they see - it's not required to qualify for the certificate and pin but is a good practice to sharpen overall observing skills. While the public is welcome, the Lunar club certificates and pins are only available to members of clubs who are members of the Astronomical League - ASEM and SLAS qualify. For those not members of one or another AL club, we will present honorary certificates in the name of ASEM.
So we have an idea of how many observers to plan for, please email your intentions to jim.roe[at]ASEMonline.org.