Denton residents, families and University of North Texas students gathered at UNT’s Rafes Urban Astronomy Center before dawn Wednesday to watch the moon gradually look rusty red during a lunar eclipse.
Ron DiIulio, UNT planetarium and astronomy program director, said more people than expected — at least 100 — came to watch the event. Many stayed throughout the three-hour eclipse, he said.
By watching the eclipse at the center instead of at home, viewers had access to telescopes and professionals who could help explain how the eclipse works, DiIulio said. Also, it makes the eclipse feel like more of an event and more engaging, he said.
“In this day and time, it’s so easy to just go on the computer and get something off the Internet,” he said. “Coming out and doing something like this becomes an adventure. Part of the adventure is going somewhere, going outside, going somewhere you’ve never been in the dark and the middle of nowhere and you get to come discover something. That’s really what science is all about.”
Randall Peters, the UNT planetarium manager, said a lot of families with young children came to watch the event, and it was the first time many of the kids saw a rusty moon.
“The kids were all hyped up — I thought the parents would have to drag them up at the crack of dawn,” he said.
The event will hopefully get visitors interested enough to come back and learn more about the center, DiIulio said. Open houses are held on the first Saturday of every month.
The center partnered with the Perot Museum of Nature and Science for the event.
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.