Northern Illinois University

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News Release

Contact: Tom Parisi, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-3635

September 30, 2009

NIU Observatory invites public
to witness lunar crash

DeKalb, Ill. — On the morning of Friday, Oct. 9, the NIU Observatory atop Davis Hall will be training its sights on the moon with hopes of observing a spectacular crash.

A NASA spacecraft known as LCROSS is scheduled to deliberately crash a launch rocket into a lunar crater, with hopes that the resulting cloud of debris will reveal evidence that water exists beneath the lunar surface.

The NIU Observatory will be open to the public for viewing that day from 5 to 7 a.m. If skies are clear, the debris plume should be viewable several seconds after impact and will peak in brightness at 30 to 100 seconds after impact, according to NASA.

It's also expected that the morning will provide prime-time viewing of other celestial objects, including Venus and Mars.

“In case of clouds or rain, we will still meet at the same time to watch the crash via NASA TV,” said Matt Wiesner, observatory manager.

For more information, e-mail observatory@niu.edu, call (815) 753-1305 or visit www.niu.edu/physics/observatory.

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