A Laser to the Moon: Science that Began with ‘One Small Step'”

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A Laser to the Moon: Science that Began with ‘One Small Step'”

image of a planet

The Museum of Nature & Science, 411 N. Main St., hosts Apache Point Observatory astronomer Dr. Russet McMillan and the APOLLO (Apache Point Observatory Lunar Laser-ranging Operation) for a virtual presentation including a live firing of the laser from the 3.5 meter telescope, weather permitting. The event will be held through a Zoom webinar at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, November 19.

Please contact Stephanie at shawkins@las-cruces.org to register for a link to the event. APOLLO is an experiment using the Astrophysical Research Consortium 3.5 meter telescope,  at Apache Point Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico. This experiment has been running since 2005, led by Dr. Tom Murphy, of the University of California, San Diego.

The objective of APOLLO is to repeatedly measure the distance from Earth to the Moon to an accuracy of a millimeter, which gives us information not just about the Moon’s orbit and orientation but also tests Einstein’s theory of General Relativity.

 This project continues a 50-year campaign which relies on mirror arrays left on the surface of the moon by the astronauts of NASA’s Apollo 11, 14, and 15 missions. This presentation will explore the science behind the experiment and will conduct a live firing of the laser from the 3.5-meter telescope to the mirrors on the moon, weather permitting. The APOLLO experiment will be operating less frequently in 2021, so don’t miss this opportunity to witness the laser-targeting of the moon!

The Museum of Nature & Science is accessible from RoadRUNNER Transit Route 1, Stop 36. For information, visit the City museums website at: http://las-cruces.org/museums or follow us on Facebook and Instagram @LCMuseums.

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