Local astronomical society takes part in international Moon watch night

MARQUETTE – A crowd of people had their eyes trained on the sky Friday night in Mattson Lower Harbor Park as they took turns viewing the moon through a number of telescopes as part of International Observe the Moon Night.

The annual event takes place across the globe as people take a few moments out of their evening to cast their eyes upward to see one of the most influential objects in human history – the moon.

“There’s nothing like looking at the real thing,” said Scott Stobbelaar of the Marquette Astronomical Society, which hosted the event.

Stobbelaar said the event often acts as a way to generate interest in astronomy in people young and old. It doesn’t do much good to know a lot about the universe and have no one to share it with, he added.

“(Looking at the moon) probably gives them a much better feeling for their position in the universe,” Stobbelaar said.

Stobbelaar and other members of the society helped people understand what they were seeing as they looked through the lens of one of more than five telescopes set up in the park, where the city turned the lights out for the evening so moon viewers could see better.

“I try to stress (to the kids), the more you do your homework, the more you’re going to get out of what you see,” he said.

The society holds events similar to Friday’s twice annually, Stobbelaar said as young kids gathered in the park talked excitedly about what they could see through the lens of a telescope.

Addie Carriere, 11, of Marquette was there with her brother Louis, 7, and grandmother Cindy Reynolds.

Looking through the lens of a large telescope, Carriere said she could see craters on the moon’s surface.

“Half of it is dark and half of it is lit up,” Carriere said. “You can kind of see two moon craters.”

The Carrieres and the rest of the people gathered in along the Lower Harbor had their pick of telescopes ranging in size from 4 inches in diameter to 10 inches in diameter, offering observers a chance to see between 40 times and 150 times what the naked eye can see.

Besides the moon, attendees were also hoping to view other deep space objects, such as a galaxy in the constellation of Andromeda, 2 million light years away. It is the closest galaxy to Earth, according to the MAS.

The society was also hoping to offer observers a chance to view the Ring Nebula and the Great Hercules Globular star cluster that contains about 120,000 stars, according to the group.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is jstark@miningjournal.net