Science Track: Dr. Shane Larson

Science Track: Shane Larson, Northwestern University, Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics: “The Once and Future Moon”

As our closest celestial neighbor, the Moon has always occupied a special place in the mind of humanity, playing special roles in our time-keeping, in our folklore, in our scientific understanding of the Cosmos, and in our quest to step beyond the shores of Earth. It is close enough to the Earth that we can easily see its influence on our planet every day through tides and the illumination of the night. It is close enough to the Earth that its study is not solely the domain of professional astronomers — ordinary citizens can and do moon-gaze from their own backyards every night using their eyes, binoculars, and small telescopes. Despite this close proximity, there are still many questions we have about the Moon, ranging from its origin, to its composition and makeup, to when will you and I be able to go there as easily as we can go to Iowa. In this talk we discuss some of the observational history of the Moon, some of our current thinking about the Moon and its importance to Earth, and what our aspirations for the future of lunar exploration are.