View the full moon from an observatory or an urban forest (Jan. 9 and 10)

January 7, 2009

Sorry for disappearing on you loyal readers for a while here lately! S. fell victim to one of the nasty cold viruses floating around out there, and after three days of hardly any sleep (for him or me), he’s finally breathing more easily thanks to a nebulizer. Still, I’m typing this with the full expectation of having him cough himself awake any minute! That’s why today’s post will be a two-fer — who knows if I’ll make it back online tomorrow!

Both events have to do with astronomy. The first is a public viewing at the Pattonville Observatory on Friday (Jan. 9). Every two weeks the school kindly opens its telescope to anyone who wants to check out the night sky, and its homepage’s calendar link posts a list of the celestial objects that will be highlighted. This week, it’s the full moon, Venus (early), Mars, Uranus, star birth factories (M42), clusters (M45), Charles Messier and star colors. You’re already curious, aren’t you? I am too, and also wishing I hadn’t slept through quite so many 8 a.m. Astronomy 101 classes as a college freshman back in the day!

The remarkable thing about the observatory is that the school district is collaborating with NASA to create, edit and distribute standards-based curricula for teachers.  For you, the average viewer, this means you’ll be guaranteed to learn something — and because the viewing is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., you’re unlikely to dose off halfway through. The location is the roof of the Pattonville Heights Middle School in Maryland Heights. The homepage includes info on the day’s weather conditions, but don’t let cloud cover deter you, as the event simply moves to the planetarium if viewing outdoors is murky.

The other event is a night hike in Forest Park on Saturday (Jan. 10) to discover what animals are out and about by the light of the full moon.  Reserve your spot by Friday at 314.877.1309 and you’ll be able to join naturalists from Forest Park Forever and the Missouri Department of Conservation when they leave from the John F. Kennedy Pavilion at 5 p.m. The free 90-minute hike through Kennedy Forest is open to all ages; details are online at the MDC homepage.  Bundle up and enjoy!


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