Lynn Capling teaches phases of the moon with the help of an Oreo cookie Saturday at the Scout Island Nature Centre during a free family astronomy night.

Lynn Capling teaches phases of the moon with the help of an Oreo cookie Saturday at the Scout Island Nature Centre during a free family astronomy night.

Star struck astronomers

Children and parents departed from Scout Island last Saturday a little more star struck with the cosmos.

Children and parents departed from Scout Island last Saturday a little more star struck with the cosmos after spending a couple of hours with local astronomers Lynn and Steve Capling.

The sky was overcast when adults and children arrived so they gathered inside the nature centre for a presentation from Lynn.

Outside in the parking lot, Steve and his helpers manned two eight-inch reflector telescopes, hoping the sky would clear.

“You always have to be prepared, just in case the weather doesn’t co-operate,” Lynn said.

Participants learned that the days of the week were named after the sun, moon and planets people could see at the time with the naked eye.

Lynn passed around three different meteorites, each one heavier than the next.

Children smiled as they balanced them in their hands.

“Meteorites are older than anything on the earth,” Lynn told them.

As she moved to the subject of comets, she said they’ve been watching Comet Lovejoy travel since the beginning of January this year.

It was discovered on Aug. 17, 2014 by Terry Lovejoy of Australia.

“We can see them better when they come closer to the sun,” she explained.

Lynn showed a short video about star size comparison.

As it came to the end viewers were reminded how small humans are in the scheme of things.

The words: “You are not the centre of the universe,” flashed across the screen and the children all read it out loud.

When Lynn asked if they wanted to see the video for a second time, they unanimously shouted, “yes.”

Another highlight was when she handed out Oreo cookies and encouraged the children to pull them carefully apart to view the full moon.

With big smiles they proceeded to eat away the icing to show the different phases of the moon.

Toward the end of her presentation she said on Friday, Jan. 30, if the skies are clear they can look up and watch the star Algol.

“Between 7 and 10 p.m. you can watch it grow brighter,” she smiled.

Lynn is a retired teacher and Steve is a forester.

“Growing up we both loved astronomy, and then when Lynn became a teacher she taught math and earth sciences,” Steve said.

The Caplings bought their first telescope because they were interested in the viewing the sky, but soon bought a second one so they could view it at the same time.

The furthest they’ve travelled for astronomy  so far is to Turkey where they went in 2006 to watch the solar eclipse.

While the sky didn’t clear up during the two-hour event held Saturday, Steve said that within ten minutes it had cleared and the people who hadn’t left yet took turns viewing the sky through the telescopes.

“We saw all kinds of stuff,” he said.