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1/29/2014 12:01:00 AM
'Field Trip to the Moon' program at Dark Sky Park

Dark Sky program director Mary Adams will present a "Field Trip to the Moon," the first of a two-part series addressing the science, myth and mysteries of the moon on Saturday, Feb. 8.

"During part I of this program, we will focus on the latest in lunar science and discovery including current missions, contemporary theories regarding the Moon's origin, and we will enjoy telescopic views of our nearest companion. Part II of the program will occur in April, when we have the first Total Lunar Eclipse visible in North America since 2011," Adams said.

This program is perfect for the month of February, a month named for the Latin word "februum," which means "purification," an association that derives from several things that occur during our second month, including: the Roman festival of Februa; cross quarter day, the half-way point between Winter Solstice and Vernal Equinox, which is variously known as Groundhog Day, Candlemas, and Imbolc; the ancient observation of the lesser mysteries, which required abstinence as preparation for feats of endurance; and traditional observances of the Lenten season of prayer and fasting.

February is unique as the only 'adjustable month' in our calendar, meaning its days are occasionally increased in order to keep the overall calendar in line with the ever-changing rhythm of the cosmos.

The Moon will not come to New Phase at any time during the month.

"Most people are accustomed to hearing about two Full Moons in one calendar month, but it is much less frequent to hear about no New Moon in a month, and in fact, such a phenomena can only occur in February," Adams said. "This can happen because the rhythm used to determine new phase, technically referred to as the 'synodic period' is 29.5 days. When New Moon falls at the end of January, as it does this year, then 29.5 days later, at next New Moon phase, we've moved all the way through the 28 days of February to arrive at March 1st."

The program is timed to allow views of sunset from the Headlands, which is at 5:45 p.m., followed by structured program from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Headlands Guest House. Programs are always free, are participatory in nature, include give-aways and refreshments, and offer a unique perspective on the starry skies over Emmet County. They take place rain, snow or starshine!

Questions? Call Adams at (231) 838-8181 or email darksky@emmetcounty.org

The 2014 Dark Sky Park program calendar can be found online at www.emmetcounty.org/darkskypark/

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