Banting House Moon Party, Monday, July 15th, 2013

On Monday evening, July 15th, 2013, Banting House National Historic Site, 442 Adelaide St. N., London, Ontario, celebrated the 40th anniversary of the naming of Banting Crater in 1973. Formerly known as Linne E, this small 5-km diameter crater on Mare Serenitatis was renamed in honour of Sir Frederick Banting, the discoverer of insulin.

RASC London Centre members who helped out included Everett Clark, with his 11.4cm Newtonian reflector; Dave McCarter, with his Celestron NexStar 6SE Schmidt-Cassegrain; Matt Neima, with his Celestron C8 (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain; Mike Roffey, with his 15cm Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain on a Vixen Porta II mount; Harold Tutt, with his Celestron C8 (20.3cm) Schmidt-Cassegrain and 80mm Stellarvue Night Hawk refractor; and Bob Duff, with his 20.3cm Dobsonian telescope. Other members present included Peter Jedicke, Patrick Whelan and Joe O’Neil, who took pictures. In all, there were 9 London Centre members with 7 telescopes.

Dr. Alyssa Gilbert, from Western University’s Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX), was there with her lunar crater experiment consisting of aluminum pans filled with flour topped with powdered chocolate, into which children could drop objects to simulate meteor impacts. Bob Duff gave Alyssa 43 “Moon Gazers’ Guide” cards, which he had received from Dr. Jan Cami at the Cronyn Observatory on Saturday evening, July 13th. However, Bob and Dave McCarter soon took them to give to visitors at the telescope and explain the Moon’s topography. There were 33 “Moon Gazers’ Guide” given out and only 10 left by the end of the evening.

The event got underway about 6:30 p.m. and around 7:15 p.m. RASC London Centre Public Outreach Coordinator and Past President Dave McCarter gave a short talk welcoming some 50 visitors who had so far arrived. Members of the Media were there, notably CTV News. Banting House Curator Grant Maltman handed out foam core mounted posters of the southwest region of Mare Serenitatis, where Banting Crater was located, to each of the London Centre members with telescopes. Peter Jedicke thought the map was identical Chart 11 in Charles A. Wood and Maurice S. J. Collin’s, "21st Century Atlas of the Moon" (2012). In fact, Dave McCarter had loaned his copy of "21st Century Atlas of the Moon" to Grant Maltman who had scanned Chart 11 and had it printed and mounted on foam core.

A welcome desk counted visitors. Grant Maltman reported that by the end of the evening there had been 104 guests, and if we count 7 staff members (including 4 people from Toronto and one from Hamilton), there were 111 people at this event.

There were some clouds in the beginning and the Moon was washed out in the bright blue sky, but contrast improved as the sky got darker and people were eventually able to make out features on the Moon. The first quarter Moon was perfectly illuminated to reveal Banting Crater half-filled with shadow, in Bob’s 20.3cm Dobsonian telescope, using his 7mm Nagler eyepiece for a magnification of 174.3X. With the aid of the map and “Moon Gazers’ Guide” card, Bob helped visitors identify Banting Crater in south-western Mare Serenitatis, east of the Apennines and Caucasus Mountains. Bob later showed people views of Saturn, which was a pleasing sight in the Dobsonian telescope at 174.3X.

Peter reported identifying the craters Menelaus and Sulpicius Gallus (on the southwest edge of Mare Serenitatis) as forming two opposing triangles, one with the crater Manilius and the other with the crater Bessel, on the floor of Mare Serenitatis. From there he gazed back towards the gap between the two mountain ranges to find the small bright crater Linne and (somewhat larger) Banting Crater, which was not too difficult to identify in telescopes of modest aperture.

Peter found the visitors’ reactions quite satisfying and everybody appreciated the efforts of London Centre members to show them a crater which was so tiny. The observing ended around 10:07 p.m., as RASC London Centre members began packing up their telescopes. It was a very successful outreach event and the Curator of Banting House may well be planning another such event with RASC London Centre!  

Bob Duff
Higher Education Liaison
RASC London Centre