Families gather at library for moon watch
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Dozens of children swarmed the parking lot behind the Copperas Cove Public Library to look up at the moon through telescopes during the Family Moon Watch Party held Friday night.
The Central Texas Makers Club and MECATX joined together to hold a moon watch party for families, with several telescopes available outside and computer software and books inside the library’s meeting room.
This year, July 20, marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and the first steps on the moon by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
Friday’s moon watch party was part of a series by MECATX to celebrate the 50th anniversary and tied into the Copperas Cove library’s space and science themed summer reading program.
Dr. Daniel Kott, with MECATX, said that students with MECATX have been working since January to build an earth station and a moon station. On July 20, one student will fly a drone from the earth model to the moon model at the exact time that Apollo 11 landed on the moon 50 years ago, which was around 4:20 p.m.
MECATX will be at the Harker Heights Library on July 19 to hold a moon watch party that evening, sharing the same information Kott shared Friday evening about the moon and Apollo 11 and Apollo 15.
“This whole month, and not only us but every library probably in the United States, has got space as their theme for this whole summer. Most museums too,” Kott said. “This is a big deal to the United States. We’re the only ones in the world that put men on the moon six times.”
Friday evening’s program included teaching the kids and their parents how to find the moon and certain stars on a software program called Starry Night before moving on to the telescopes.
“The other thing that we do unique is anything my eye can see, I can put on the internet and you can watch from anywhere in the world,” Kott said. “What you see out there, to me, is the old way of doing astronomy. You see something and then you have a whole line of kids. Somebody comes, they move the scope a little, the moon moves. Nobody knows what they’re seeing anyways, so it’s called the ‘Wow!’ factor. They’ll say ‘Wow’ no matter what.”
Kott said that the “new” way, using technology like cameras and computers and other devices, offers a better way to teach and connect to others across the world.
When his organization held a moon watch for the eclipse in January, people from Great Britain and New Zealand were able to watch the streaming.
Ron Nelson, with the Central Texas Makers Group, also brought telescopes and books to the watch party for parents and kids to use and look through.
“The key thing for us is to make it fun, not scary or technical or anything like that,” Nelson said. “The telescopes we brought out are specifically ones that are not technical.”
Nelson said that seeing all of the kids at the watch party looking through telescopes was great.
“It’s getting that excitement,” Nelson said. “You never know what’s going to happen with people’s interest and sometimes, the strangest little sparks can turn into something better.”
Nelson said that more events like Friday’s moon watch party need to be held in Copperas Cove because they are a great way to build community and interests.
Nelson said that the fact that the 50th anniversary of the first U.S. moon landing was coming up and tied in perfectly to the library’s space themed programs.
“You get the history behind it,” Nelson said. “You know, we actually did this and it’s pretty awesome.”
The Makers Club is all ages. They meet the second Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. in the library.
“We want anybody to feel comfortable to come out and look at the moon, whether you’re eight years old or 80 years old, it really shouldn’t matter,” Nelson said.
The next Makers Club meeting next month will tie into the library’s bottle rocket launch to be held on July 2 at 2 p.m. at the CCISD soccer field, according to Nelson.