Since ancient times, the moon has fascinated us. It attracts us with its beauty and scares us with its potential.
Fill our hearts with romance, permeating our poetry and art with moonlight. We have even created fear of the moon.
Photo: Sara McEwan
The word “madness” is derived from the word “lunatic”, from “lunatic”, which means “of the moon” or “lunarized”.
This refers to the moon’s supposed effect on people, which has never been scientifically proven.
For the ancients, it was the companion object of the sun, waxing and waning throughout the month, giving it special powers that the sun did not possess: the phases.
Cultures around the world attributed mystical powers to the moon, and it was often deified by much of our planet’s population.
The meaning of the moon.
Even today, many holidays in Western religions are tied to the periodicity of the moon, as the Jewish and Islamic calendars are largely based on the lunar month and the Christian holiday of Easter is also tied to the moon.
The First Nations of Canada were very familiar with the lunar month and noted the connection between the shell plates of a turtle’s back and the days of a month.
The moon is believed to have formed when a planet the size of Mars collided with Earth more than four billion years ago.
The resulting explosion threw up a ring of light rocks (silicates), while heavier material (iron and nickel) fell to the center of the earth. Over time, the ring coalesced, forming the object we now call the moon.
Although beautiful to observe with the naked eye, the Moon is even more spectacular with binoculars or a telescope.
Photo: Sara McEwan
Through the eyepiece of the Killarney Provincial Park 16” telescope, it is easy to see the dark areas (Maria – “seas”), the light areas known as the highlands, and the most spectacular features of the moon: the craters!
Maria is believed to have formed when massive bombardments occurred, causing a large amount of basaltic rock to form. On the other hand, lunar highland rocks are largely made up of anorthositic rock, which occurs when magma cools more slowly.
It is believed that the craters on the Moon are largely indicative of the craters that would be on Earth if it were not for erosion and plate tectonics.
Let the race begin
The space race to land on the moon between the Soviet Union and the United States began as a test of their supremacy in intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) rockets.
It is amazing to think that one of our most important achievements made on behalf of all humanity began with rockets that were designed to destroy all life on our planet.
Just over eight years after the first person (Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union) entered space, the Apollo 11 crew (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins) became the first to successfully land on the moon. . Michael Collins remained in orbit conducting experiments while Armstrong and Aldrin conducted experiments on the moon’s surface).
Celebrate with us
On July 20, 2019, the world will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing!
The Canadians were involved in both the engineering and flight operations that led to the successful landing and first steps. The lunar module platforms were manufactured in Quebec and several of the engineers and flight operations crew came from Ontario.
In Killarney Provincial Park, two events are planned to celebrate the moon landing and the first steps on the moon: a mid-afternoon program to coincide with the first moon landing (16:17:40 EDT) and another in the late afternoon to match Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon (22:56:15 EDT).
We have planned presentations, quizzes, a chance to touch a moon rock, and a giveaway for a moon rock fragment! The highlight of each program will be the real-time audio-visual presentation timed to exactly match actual events from 50 years ago!
After the evening event, attendees will walk on a scale model of the solar system to the Killarney Provincial Park Observatory to spend an evening learning about and observing the constellations through telescopes.
Stay past midnight to have the telescopes pointed at the moon right where Apollo 11 landed!
If you are staying in the Killarney Provincial Park area, come and visit our friends at Science North.
Once there, head up to Space Place on the fourth floor to try out the “Explore the Moon” exhibit, which features a lunar landscape mural by a local artist and a retro-style arcade game in which you drive the lunar rover.
Visit the Science North Planetarium for more space exploration!
If you’re in the Toronto area, be sure to check out the special exhibit at the Aga Khan Museum, “The Moon, A Journey Through Time.”
This exhibition features rare artifacts and materials that celebrate the moon in Islamic and pre-Islamic culture.
Photo: Aly Manji
It’s a must-see if you’re interested in archaeoastronomy, the study of how people in the past understood phenomena in the sky.
Check with your local science or technology museum to find out what special events are happening near you!