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October, and thoughts turn to baseball and astronomy day

Re-posted from Completely Out of My Mind by ASP Executive Director Linda Shore.

Original posting date: September 30, 2014

Full Moon. Image credit: NASA/Sean Smith

Giants play the Pirates in a one-game, all-or-nothing, wild card elimination game. The baseball playoff season is about to start in earnest. Astronomy day is this Saturday.

To commemorate all of it, here is an edited excerpt from an article I’ve recently written for Mercury Magazine (an amazing publication of the ASP which will be digitally sent to our members shortly). Enjoy.

Every September, my attention focuses on baseball and the playoffs that are just a few weeks away and this year is no different. Allow me to confess to one of my late summer baseball fantasies: my dream is to lead an astronomy activity with 30,000 fans attending a night game at a major league stadium (it also happens to be a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park, but that’s completely irrelevant I suppose).

Fenway Park. Image credit: Francesco Crippa

In my fantasy, everyone attending the game has received a set of binoculars as a promotional gift. It’s the seventh inning stretch and the stadium announcer says, “Ladies and gentlemen, it is our pleasure to welcome Linda Shore of the Astronomical Society of Pacific, who will lead us all in some stargazing. Please take your seats and get out your binoculars as we turn off the stadium lights.” Once 500,000 watts of ballpark lights are extinguished, some of the brighter stars would become visible, and maybe the fans would be able spot a planet or two. Had this opportunity been possible this summer, I would have taken advantage of “International Observe the Moon Night” on September 6th. I would have instructed fans to take a close look at the terminator line along the lower portion of the Moon’s disk. The binoculars would have afforded the fans with an astounding view of some of the Moon’s surface features that are much easier to appreciate near the transition between lunar day and night. I would have helped fans locate the Kepler and Tycho Craters and their spectacular dandelion rays of ejected material that extend for hundreds of kilometers. I would have pointed out the huge, dark patches of hardened basalt, once molten and filled lunar basins, that we see as the facial features of “The Man In The Moon.”

While I may have missed my opportunity to bring “International Observe The Moon Night” to a major league stadium in 2014, as we often say in baseball, “there’s always next year.”

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