2010 Equinox Moon Celebration at Santa Fe College March 20

The Kika Silva Pla Planetarium and the Natural Sciences Department at Santa Fe College, along with the Alachua Astronomy Club, will present the 2010 Equinox Moon Celebration, 3 to 11 p.m. Saturday, March 20 at the Northwest campus, 3000 NW 83rd St., Gainesville.

All activities are free, except for the planetarium shows, which are half price.

Telescope viewing

See the moon in the daytime and at night! All telescopes will be trained on the moon from 3-11 p.m. outdoors near the planetarium and X Building. Santa Fe’s 12-inch reflector, supervised by SF Astronomy Professor Sally Hoffman, will provide a super magnified view of the lunar surface. The Alachua Astronomy Club’s telescopes will offer both lunar and planetary views throughout the event.

Lectures

Alachua Astronomy Club member Bill Helms, a retired NASA engineer, will give a free presentation: “How You Can Know, Absolutely and Positively, Whether We Really Landed on the Moon, No Matter What NASA Says,” at 6 p.m. He’ll also give a few words on the 40th anniversary of Apollo 13, which was forced to return to Earth without landing on the moon, and was only able to do so, without loss of life, because of incredible, on-the-spot engineering feats.

Dr. Howard Eskildsen, a practicing physician and avid amateur astronomer, will present “Hooked on the Moon – A Lighthearted Look at the Joys of Lunar Observing” at 4 p.m.

Planetarium shows

All shows at the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium will be half-price during the celebration, including regularly scheduled children’s shows during the day and the evening’s all-ages shows. “Molecularium” plays at 3 p.m.; “Extreme Planets,” is at 5 p.m.; and “Legends of the Zodiac:EQUINOX,” is at 7 p.m. The planetarium’s grand finale will be at 9 p.m. with the debut of a new show, “Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon,” in the Music 360 series. 

Eskildsen will demonstrate the use of a lunar imager in conjunction with a computer. His photos will be on display in the planetarium gallery, along with artwork by space artist Tim Malles.

Tickets will be available at the moon table 15 minutes prior to each talk and planetarium show, first come, first served.

Kids’ craft and activity tables

In addition to the structured activities above, Hoffman’s astronomy students will conduct interactive activities inside X Building, such as Create-a-Crater, a do-it-yourself demonstration of how lunar craters are formed. Guests can also interact with a 70-pound piece of the Campo del Cielo meteorite from Argentina, including testing it with magnets. And kids’ craft activities will include making moons, planets, comets and galaxies.

Descriptive and historical information will be offered with all of these activities. Also look for a table of free astro calendars, moon photos, bookmarks, posters and educational information. A special Lunar Lore table will offer information on a variety of moon topics, all in the lobby of X Building.

Prizes

Tickets for free prizes will be given to each person who attends. Winning numbers will be drawn throughout the event and posted on the AstroPrize easel.

All activities are free, except for the planetarium shows, which are half-price. For more information on the planetarium shows, visit www.sfcollege.edu/planetarium. This event will go on rain or shine.

Contact information

For more information about this event, please contact Professor Sally Hoffman, 352-395-5354 or sally.hoffman@sfcollege.edu.

For more on the planetarium shows, contact Planetarium Coordinator James Albury at 352-395-5381 or james.albury@sfcollege.edu.