Friday, September 25, 2015

Grab a MoonScope to view Sunday's rare super moon eclipse

My daughter loves to solve puzzles and tinker with things so it seems a career path in engineering or science might be something to keep in mind as she progresses through school. While many STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields provide interesting and financially lucrative career opportunities these jobs also are dominated pretty exclusively by males which has to be an issue of concern for the father of a little girl who doesn't want to see her future limited from pursuing any endeavor she may choose. According to research from the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP), women make up 47% of the overall workforce in the United States but only 28% of females have jobs involving science and engineering.  Researchers looking into this huge workforce differentiation have had the insight that boys tend to have more activities and play time as children that relate to STEM so they tend to consider these fields more interesting and fun than girls do.  Therefore parents and educators are being called out to become more engaged in encouraging girls to have fun with STEM at an early age so they may have more of an interest in growing up to become a future computer programmer, scientist, or astronomer.

As a parent of a young daughter myself, I was thrilled to discover the Nancy B Science Club from Educational Insights that makes STEM topics fun by encouraging girls to engage in exploring and learning through a variety of cool scientific gadgets.  Nancy B Science Club products include among other things a black light illuminator kit for science sleuthing activities, binoculars with a built in compass for exploring parks and nature trails, a microscope to examine the intricate detail of things in the world around us, a Stir-It-Up Chemistry Lab to experiment on how things react and a MoonScope to gaze into outer space.  These science club products are actually designed by "Nancy B" who is a science product designer, former science teacher, and an all-around science enthusiast who want to inspire girls to share her passion for science, technology, engineering and math.

My daughter was so excited when I brought home a Nancy B's Science Club MoonScope for us to check out the upcoming super moon eclipse.  This is a very rare phenomenon taking place from approximately 10:11 to 10:47pm E.T. on Sunday, September 27, 2015 where you will see a giant red moon.  That night's full moon will appear about 14% larger than normal creating a "super moon" effect because it will at the closest point (known as its perigee) in its orbit of the Earth.  It will also appear blood red in color during the total lunar eclipse; which is when the Earth passes directly between the sun and the moon.  Our planet blocks most of the sun light from illuminating the moon at this time, but some light does  reflect through the Earth's atmosphere giving the moon a red tin similar to the effect you see in the sky during an evening sunset.  How great is that to start off the Halloween season with a Blood Moon to have a teachable moment with your children and get them excited about science!

So we put together the Nancy B's Science Club MoonScope and tested out calibrating and focusing the lenses to make sure it was ready to go so we wouldn't have to be monkeying around getting it ready when wanting to view the big event in the night  sky.  It's instructions recommend putting it together during the day and testing it out on some objects like trees to make sure it works properly and to learn how to focus the lenses without it being dark out.  Everything worked great and we're ready to go for Sunday night!

The MoonScope, which has received The National Parenting Center's Seal of Approval, does a remarkable job of providing a clear view by magnifying the night sky by 18x to 90x through transferable 20mm and 4mm all-glass eyepieces.  The MoonScope requires 2 AA batteries to power a red light at the base of its tripod that isn't used for the function of the telescope but rather provides a way for kids to reference the included activity journal without hurting their night vision. I found the MoonScope, which was a 2014 nominee for Best Educational Toy of the Year by the Toy Industry Association and received a Silver Honor from the Parents Choice Foundation, easy to assemble and most importantly my daughter found it easy to use when she tried it out.

The only thing that took her a bit of getting used to was looking through one eye to see through the MoonScope's eyepieces, which I have to admit I'm not very good at either.  Make sure to take advantage of the pre-aligned finderscope next to the eyepiece on the MoonScope to line up your targets as it can be difficult to find things just by using the telescopic lenses.  The finderscope even has a glow-in-the-dark ring on it to help you target things in the night sky which we thought was pretty neat.  Also you will want to have a table or something sturdy to place the MoonScope on because its tripods aren't very tall making it challenging at times to get the right angle for a view if you don't have something to prop it on.

So we checked everything out during the daylight, gave it a test run the other night, and we are ready to go for viewing the Super Blood Moon!  Don't miss out because the last time there was a blood red super moon was when I was a third grader in 1982  - in fact since 1900 it has only happened 5 times (1910, 1928, 1946, 1964 & 1982) - and it won't occur again until 2033.  You don't want to wait another 18 years for another chance to get a glimpse of this special astronomical event. 

For more information about the MoonScope, visit

If you don't have a MoonScope of your own to view the Super Moon Eclipse with, NASA will have a live feed from 8:00 pm through 11:30 pm ET streaming views of the eclipse from the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California, Adler Planetarium in Chicago, and Fernbank Observatory in Atlanta, Georgia among other locations across the United States.  NASA solar physicist Mitzi Adams will discuss the eclipse and answer questions from people on Twitter using the hashtag #askNASA during the broadcast.

** Disclaimer:  A Geek Daddy received a complimentary Nancy B's Science Club MoonScope to review.  The opinions in this post about the product are my own and a positive review was not mandated for this blog to receive the product.  **

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