Posted Online: April 20, 2013, 7:41 pm

Moon rocks and meteorite captivate kids at Moline library

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By Laura Anderson Shaw, landerson@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: John Greenwood
The Popular Astronomy Club celebrated National Astronomy Day Saturday at the Moline Library, 3210 41st St. It featured displays and included items on loan from NASA, crafts, demonstrations and solar observing. Seven year-old Hannah Duyveonck works on a craft project depicting the placement of various planets as Tessa Jackson, seven years-old, concludes a similar project.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: John Greenwood
The Popular Astronomy Club celebrated National Astronomy Day Saturday, April 20, at the Moline Library, 3210 41st St. It featured displays and included items on loan from NASA, crafts, demonstrations and solar observing. In the photo, club member Ken Boquist of Rock Island assists eleven-year-old Kailyn Peterson of Cordova with the viewing of sun spots through a William Optics 80mm telescope.
Sealed in clear discs and displayed on a table at the Moline Public Library, they looked like bits of gravel, but these little rocks were special.

They're from the moon.

Dozens of children and adults carefully inspected the tiny pieces of moon rock and saw exactly where they were found on a diagram of the moon Saturday duringThe Popular Astronomy Club'sNational Astronomy Day celebration at the library.

"It makes me think a lot about how little we are" and the vastness of the universe, saidCali Milligan, of Moline.

Ms. Milligan brought her childrenCorina, 5, and Ian, 3, to see the exhibit Saturday, and while the kids mostly were interested in the arts and crafts section of the exhibit, she said Ian likes rocket ships and Corina is fascinated by sparkling stars.

The kids were busy trying on big white gloves once worn by astronauts in space. With her hand in a glove, Corinaheld her hand above her head and wiggled her fingers.

"Can you imagine having to work with that on your hand?" her mother said.

Corina kind of shook her head, moving her hand through the air."I've got a big hand!" she said.

Owen Braddy, 6, of Moline, reveled in the chance to hold a piece of a meteorite.It was much heavier than it looked, he said, but he was able to lift it."I'm very strong," he said.

His dad, Steve, and sister, Payton, 3, also were enjoying the exhibit. Mr. Braddy said he brought the kids to the library to pick out books, and it was a coincidence that the celebration was being held.

It was a "nice surprise," he said. "I think it's cool."

The exhibit included several pieces on loan from NASA, such as the moon rocks, space gloves and a model of the space shuttle; several scales to test visitor's weights on Earth, the sun, moon and planets such as Jupiter and Mars; make-and-take activities involving planets and astronomy; a comet-making demonstration; the Popular Astronomy Club Mobile Observatory and several telescopes to check out sunspots.

Dr. Craig Kletzing, of the University of Iowa's physics and astronomy departments, gave a power point presentation with pictures and videos on "The Auroral Borealis: Nature's Lightshow in the Sky."

Popular Astronomy Club president Wayland Bauer said the club has celebrated National Astronomy Day at the library for the past three years.

While space exploration has slowed down in recent times, Mr. Bauer said he's interested in doing "whatever we can do to keep people aware" and drum up interest in space. Hopefully, younger generations will then pursue majors in astronomy and astrophysics when the time comes, he said.

Mr. Bauer said the exhibit covered a broad range of topics for visitors, whether their interests were in science as a whole, space or astronomy.

For most members of the club, looking at the sky is just a hobby, Mr. Bauer said."I like to go out and look up."

If the exhibit can generate interest in astronomy or space, he said, those who visit might like to do the same some day.

"This is where we live," Mr. Bauer said. "We need to understand how it impacts us and how we impact it."
For more information about the Popular Astronomy Club and its future events, visit pacastronomy.50megs.com.