Moon Day looms on the horizon

Howdy everyone!

Things are finally gelling in place for Moon Day this Saturday, and I have a chance to chill a bit and update everyone on what’s happening.

Over a dozen exhibitors lined up (and more on the way next year):

NSS of North Texas (ISS, Cislunar Space, Solar Power Satellites)
The Moon Society (Moon)
Dallas Mars Society (Mars)
Dallas Area Rocket Society (Rockets)
Fort Worth Astronomical Society (solar scopes)
Texas Astronomical Society (telescopes)
UTA Planetarium (programs)
UTD Center for Space Sciences (upper atmosphere)
Solar System Ambassador Kelley Miller (Moon)
Civil Air Patrol (aerospace education)
Museum of Nature & Science (inflatable planetarium)
Astronaut Training Center (floaty chairs, astronaut suits)
Spaceminers (tether climber, robots, gyroscopic engine)

Next year I’m working on getting the Boy Scouts of America, headquartered here in the metroplex, to show off their STEM-related badges (engineering, robotics, space exploration, et al) and highlight a new STEM project on which they’re working. UNT should be back, and I’ve been working on the Monnig Meteorite Gallery over at TCU for the past few years. I’m hoping to get a display and a speaker from them, which would be a big addition to the program (especially as she would be talking about Lunar meteorites. Woo hoo!). We have been including their beautiful info postcard in the Lunar Sample Bags each year.

And, dagnabit, I’m starting next Monday on getting companies to show off their hardware at next year’s Moon Day (July 21st, 2012). We’ve got so many here in the great State of Texas, and it’s truly a shame that the folks of the metroplex (the money center of the state) don’t get to see what’s going on. My goal is a minimum of three company exhibitors (and we don’t charge for the space either, nudge, nudge) and a business panel in the auditorium put together by the Texas Space Foundation/Alliance. I may end up with nothing again, but if this year is something of a success I may be able to use that as leverage. In the interest of STEM I may have to start with non-space companies here in the metroplex like Raytheon and LockMart (who only do aero stuff here) to embarrass them into participating.

For the speakers we’ve got two tracks, what I’ve taken to calling Moon Academy (family friendly all ages) and Moon University (high school or bright middle schooler and up, on more sophisticated topics).

For the Moon Academy we have three programs this year, each run twice:

Moon Rocks w/Chaz Hafey of Brookhaven College (JSC lucite disks)
Toys in Space w/Cynthia Whisennand of SSA and CAP
Exploring the Solar System w/J. David Hale of SSA (incl. comet-building exercise)

1pm
A: Solar System
B: Toys in Space

2:30pm
A: Moon Rocks
B: Toys in Space

4:00pm
A: Moon Rocks
B: Solar System

Next year I’m looking to add classes on Moon Observing and Crater Making, and DARS should be back with a rocket class. Next year works better for them as it doesn’t overlap with their monthly rocket launches up in Frisco as it did this year.

For Moon University (or Moon U.) we’ve got five speakers lined up:

11:00am UTD Geosciences Lecturer Bob Finkelman will talk on “A Microscopic View of the Moon”

lunchtime movie: “Postcards from the Future”

1:00pm Also from UTD, Dr. James Carter will speak on “The Lunar Regolith and Its Maria Simulant JSC-1A”
2:00pm NSS of North Texas member Ken Ruffin addresses “What’s Next?: After the Space Shuttle Program”
3:00pm NSS of North Texas member Pat Hauldren speaks to “Science Fact in Speculative Fiction”
4:00pm Lights in the Dark blogger Jason Major will talk about his recent experience “Tweeting the Last Shuttle Launch”

These will be in the auditorium upstairs. We were going to stream mission coverage there, but the museum looked at the schedule and saw that Saturday is garbage compaction day on the ISS, and was generally finding there was no good way to set up the speakers on the main floor, and so decided to move everyone up to the auditorium. Now we’ve got to work extra hard to get people up to the auditorium so that we don’t have a rehash of last year when Armadillo Aerospace only had a dozen folks show up for their booming rocket videos (gee, why didn’t they return this year…?). I had about as many in my Cislunar Space class across the hall. Luckily we have enough speakers that I don’t have to inflict that talk again this year.

The Moon Academy and Moon U. appellations are just notional this year, but they’re very useful for keeping track of who’s what’s where, and so will probably be formalized next year. I’m also thinking of some kind of certification program where kids who complete say 3 of 5 Moon Academy classes get a certificate of accomplishment. 5 of 5 gets a gold star.

But that’s not all! There are also Moon Day door prizes: vials of JSC-1A from Orbitec, t-shirts from the Great Moonbuggy Race, a planets painting and free art class from G’nosh!, a copy of the lunchtime movie “Postcards from the Future” courtesy of director Alan Chan, and a teensy tiny piece (9 mg) of a Lunar meteorite from the Lunar Library.

If you’re one of the first 200 kids (generally up to about middle school age) at Moon Day you’ll get a Lunar Sample Bag filled with goodies from a whole bunch of folks, and most notably a copy of Make Magazine. All the materials get shipped directly to the museum (and locked in a storeroom), so I haven’t seen them yet, but I’m pretty sure the copy of Make is the space projects issue from last year. We’re all very excited about that one.

Had enough yet? [thank you sir, may I have another?] No? Good, ’cause there’s more. There’s also the Art Show – Comics in Space!
-60 Years of Graphic Space Adventure.
-Over 200 covers spanning six decades.
-Stunning visions of Space Exploration and Human Adventure from 1950 to 2010.
-Action, Excitement, Danger, Thrills, Chills, and the Wonder of Discovery!
-The Most Important Show you will see this year!

And that pretty much covers it! I’ve got to say that I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity and desire to participate this year, which has exceeded all of my expectations. Most of the people I contacted were happy to forward materials on what they’re doing. Some folks didn’t get it though, having gone entirely electronic and expecting me to pay to circulate their materials, and so I can’t highlight their work. It’s one thing for me to flash a web address in a slide presentation, it’s quite another for a kid to go home with a cool bookmark with a web address on it that leads to all kinds of wonderful things.

From my perspective as someone who is trying to sell the idea of the importance of space activities to the citizens in my community, I need something physical to hand out that has a web address on it. And expecting me to pay for your publicity doesn’t fly with me. My budget for this event is $0.

ourplaceinspace.jpg

That’s right. Every institution is eating the individual cost of their participation. NSS of North Texas paid to underwrite the Lunar Sample Bags (which consequently have the www.nssofnt.org web address on them). Museum of Nature of Science is paying a staffer to run the inflatable planetarium. I paid to frame the comic books since it is my Lunar Library that is putting on the art show, as it did last year. (I’m still deciding on next year’s project, probably collector cards) FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation, NASA Innovative Partnerships Program, NASA Lunar Science Institute, Lunar & Planetary Institute, Orbitec, Great Moonbuggy Race, Moon Arts, UTD CSS, and all the others paid to ship their outreach materials to the museum. I also ate the cost of 150 glossy stock flyers posted around the D/FW metroplex, just because this baby is mine and I couldn’t be prouder. My hope is that someday it outgrows me and becomes an institution that families in the metroplex (and around the state, and neighboring states) look forward to each year.

So if you’re in the D/FW metroplex, you need to be at the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field in Dallas (just north of Mockingbird on Lemmon Ave. Look for the big 737 sticking out of the north side) from 10am to 5pm – exploring space!. If you know someone in the North Texas area, tell them where they need to be this Saturday – exploring space! Cost is only regular museum admission – $8 adults, $5 students/seniors, under 3 free. Cheaper than a movie (oh wait, you get one of those too!), lasts longer, is way more informative and healthy for the brain, and the A/C is included!

One thought on “Moon Day looms on the horizon

  1. What’s the next big space event to be on. The look out for. I know there are some that think Comet Elenin will be a notable event, but I think it could just be another comet in the sky.

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