Just a few weeks ago, I held my first moon viewing in a very long time. It was for the 25th Louisburgh Beaver Scouts. My title, bubbles on the moon, came directly out of the mouth of a tiny girl as she looked through my telescope. I had promised the moon viewing to the Beavers back in October. Here in the west of Ireland, it is almost impossible to plan for a viewing due to the weather. Planning is further restricted to the evening a group might meet, being clear. However, the last week in February lived up to the predictions. Monday was clear, and the little Beavers well and truly viewed the moon.
The evening was perfect as I set up. The first quarter moon was very high. Jupiter and Venus were in conjunction as they headed to set over the Atlantic Ocean. The children came out of their den in small groups. They had never seen a Dobsonian telescope before and did not recognise it as a telescope. The age group of Beavers is 6 – 8, so looking at the moon was a new experience for them.
I use a rubber and steel step stool for safety. It locks to the ground when someone steps up on it. This stool is perfect for helping small children look through my eyepieces and feel safe. One of these tiny girls stood on it, and as she looked in the eyepiece, she said, ” the moon looks like bubbles” She was looking at Montes Caucasus poking its way into Mare Serenitatis. In response, I checked it myself and realised what she meant. Even though it looked grey to the eye, the image of chocolate was a great observation. This mountainous area looked like a popular chocolate bar in Ireland. This chocolate is full of air bubbles, depressions and holes.
Recently Richard Hill wrote a detailed piece on Montes Caucasus.
A while later, a small energetic girl standing on my stool had another spin on the moon viewing. She stated as she looked up, ” Look at the moon, far, far, far, far, far away (I could not write down all times she said far in her excitement), and it’s in your telescope. Mostly the boys said, ” OMG” and “That’s Cool.”
As the Beaver groups returned to their den, I learned that the cub scouts wanted to see the moon. They are aged 9-11, and no stool is required. One tall boy wanted to know where the astronauts landed on the moon in 1969. So I talked him to the area, and he was delighted. Mostly, the cubs were less vocal than the younger beavers. However, they were impressed and had more questions.
The leaders of both groups and a few parents also got a look. The incredible view silenced some of them. Nevertheless they all developed big smiles on their faces. They were impressed seeing the moon up close in my 14mm eyepiece. I took delight in telling everyone present about the Jupiter / Venus conjunction and the location of Mars to the left of the moon.
Sharing the moon’s surface with the Beavers and Cubs was an honour. I hope to have further engagements with the group in the coming years. It was enjoyable listening to their enthusiastic comments. When I look at Montes Caucasus again, I shall have Richards’s details in my eye but will have chocolate on my mind.
The aurora was predicted to give a show that evening. Nothing was visible while I was showing the moon. I kept an eye over the Atlantic all the way home, but nothing developed. However, just as I arrived home, I got an alert on my phone. I went outside to look towards Achill Island, but there was no aurora amongst the developing clouds. The irony was that images of the aurora appeared online the next day from Bertra beach. That location was very close to where I was showing the moon. Them’s the breaks, as they say.
All in all an enjoyable evening; approximately 40 took part.