The third edition of the astronomy-themed day at the campus MIL took place on July 21st. Titled astroMIL: the Moon, 50 years later, the event attracted over 700 people from 1 to 11pm and aimed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and the first steps on the Moon.
Outdoor booths and activities in the MIL Library
Starting at 1PM, the participants braved the intense sun to visit the many booths which showcased science activities for the whole family. These booths were presented by the university’s Departments of Chemistry, Geography, Physics and Biological Sciences as well as by many collaborators: the Observatoire du Mont-Mégantic, Astro-Poly, the Fédération des astronomes amateurs du Québec, the Société d’astronomie de Montréal (SAM) and the Société d’astronomie du Planétarium de Montréal (SAPM). Visitors of all ages were also able to enjoy the various activities offered at the MIL Library, such as a virtual reality experience that took them aboard the Saturn V rocket during its takeoff towards the Moon or the wall of touchscreens which allowed them to explore our natural satellite.
Conferences under the big top
Throughout the day, participants were able to attend a range of talks, hosted by Yannick Villedieu, that put space exploration in the foreground. First, Olivier Hernandez, UdeM alumnus and Director of the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, Samir Saul, professor in the Department of History, and Carl Leblanc, UdeM alumnus, documentary filmmaker, writer and director of the Apollo 11 documentary, discussed the socio-political context around the space mission that sent humans to the Moon. Artist Patrick Bernatchez then presented his artistic approach around the creation of his piece 29 • 53, which represents the Moon. This will be the first piece of public artwork on the MIL campus. Wrapping up the series of talks, René Doyon, professor with the UdeM’s Department of Physics and Director of iREx, Nathalie Ouellette, the Coordinator of iREx at UdeM and the Canadian Outreach Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope, and Annabelle Richard-Laferrière, UdeM student and winner of the Gates Fellowship at Cambridge University, invited the crowd to dream a little by highlighting exciting future astronomical projects. Thanks to a generous contribution by the Centre de recherche en astrophysique du Québec, our guests were also treated to several viewings of a Canadian documentary about Canada’s contribution to the Apollo 11 mission: LANDER.
Cinema under the stars and nighttime observations
After an astronomical happy hour, where the participants were able to enjoy food from Les Boucaniers en cavale and to chat informally with scientists, the participants were able to attend an outdoor showing of the movie First Man which offers a more intimate look at the daily life of Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon. At the end of the evening, the SAPM’s amateur astronomers delighted the participants by pointing their telescopes at Jupiter and Saturn, who were on show that night.