By Jamie Folsom
What could be better on a December night than taking your family to see the moon up close and personal? Not much, when a telescope and a clear view of the night sky are just around the corner. Long-time amateur astronomer Dr. Dan Laszlo will share his experiences and insights on observing lunar phases and features at the Little Thompson Observatory this Friday. He knows what it’s like to be inspired by early experiences with astronomy.
As a kid in Michigan, Laszlo said the moon “grabbed my attention, and I needed to do a science project on it in sixth grade.” Soon he was researching astronomy, reading everything he could from his local library. His enthusiasm blossomed. “I tormented my parents until they helped me by buying a telescope,” he recalls.
With his 6-inch reflector telescope, he was awed by the direct views he had of Saturn and the moon. He added, “I also got a taste of what galaxies look like.”
Through medical school days and heavy work schedules, he’s continued his pursuits with larger telescopes, hours of documenting and “wasting many rolls of film” as he laughingly described his photography. He’s been particularly attracted to the moon as a subject. “One nice thing about the moon is if you have a somewhat short attention span, it can be rewarding.”
Other recent near space explorations intrigue Laszlo as well. Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons, for instance, may have ice on it, according to findings published in the latest Scientific American magazine. And where there is water, there is the possibility of life on other planets in our solar system, at least at one point in its history. And closer to home, he adds, “The moon could be a reservoir of materials. We haven’t been able to explore it all by any means.”
“I want to emphasize that the moon has something for everybody. Things to see with binoculars, and there is a lot to learn about its geology.” And best of all, Laszlo notes, “It doesn’t require absolute pristine conditions to observe.”
When: Friday, Dec. 19. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Where: Little Thompson Observatory, 850 Spartan Ave., Berthoud