On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 crew arrived at the Moon, and Neil Armstrong took his famous giant leap for all of humankind upon the lunar surface. On Thursdays in May, the Georgetown County Library System (GCLS) will host space science presentations in celebration of the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of this monumental mission. All programs are free and open to the public, thanks to a Library Services and Technology Act (LTSA) grant successfully submitted by Dwight McInvaill, GCLS Director, and his staff members. The funded project, “Moonrise: Exploring New Phases of Innovation,” will foster a diversity of original programming and materials that cater to a true hunger for scientific literacy across Georgetown County.
The Moonrise project will feature four space science programs by astronomy experts at GCLS’s four branches. The presentations will be enhanced by the creation of special astronomical models created on a 3D printer. On May 9 at 5:30 p.m., Ian Hewitt will focus on “The Modern Moon” at the Waccamaw Library, which is located at 41 St. Paul Place, Pawleys Island. Hewitt, Research Assistant at the Astronomy and Astrophysics Laboratory at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science, will discuss our knowledge of the Moon and how we have come to these fascinating discoveries. He will also talk about both U.S. and international plans for new missions to the Moon and what these are designed to discover. On May 16 at 4:30 p.m., Dr. Louis J. Rubbo’s presentation, “Gravitational Wave Astronomy: Listening to the Universe,” will enlighten attendees at the Carvers Bay Library, located at 13048 Choppee Road in Hemingway, about the importance of gravitational waves, ripples in spacetime that result from the collision of two neutron stars. More than a century ago, Albert Einstein predicted the existence of such energy waves. Only since 2017 have scientists been able to detect gravitational waves. Rubbo is Professor of Astrophysics at Coastal Carolina University.
The Georgetown Library, located at 405 Cleland Street, will feature two presentations on May 23. Dr. Jeannette M. Myers, Professor of Astronomy and Director of the Dooley Planetarium at Francis Marion University, will deliver a 3:30 p.m. presentation geared toward youth, titled “Rockets to the Moon,” which will look at how the Apollo 11 astronauts were able to get to the Moon (and return) and what they discovered. Myers will then offer a further presentation for adults at 5:30 p.m., called “Science on the Moon,” which will explore the science experiments set up by the Apollo astronauts and the samples they brought back to Earth. The experiments and equipment left behind on the Moon have allowed us to better understand our nearest neighbor in space. Finally, on May 30 at 4:30 p.m., Ron Revere, NASA Solar System Ambassador, will give a talk entitled, “Yes…We Really Did Put Men on the Moon!” The internet is full of sites proclaiming that the Apollo program was a hoax and that no human has ever landed on the Moon. In the fiftieth anniversary year of the Apollo 11 mission, Revere’s presentation will provide scientific proof that humans have indeed walked on the lunar surface.
Other activities and programs supported by the Moonrise grant will include intergenerational LEGO robotics space programs pairing senior citizens with school aged children at each of the GCLS four branches; science and technology activities and reading materials for inmates at the Georgetown County Detention Center; English as a Second Language (ESL) science and technology tutoring for approximately forty adult learners; assistive technology demos to help the visually challenged to access science and technology books and other resources; and virtual reality outer space gaming laptops and headsets in rotation at the four branches so that youth—many of whom hail from rural, disadvantaged areas—can engage space science and technology activities and learning in an immersive, interactive manner.