By Martine Panzica
October 31, 2020 at the Deanery Project was a Halloween like no other. As part of the DP’s on-going efforts to get people into nature during Covid 19, they hosted an “All Souls Day” Open House in collaboration with the Young Naturalists Club for a spooky scavenger hunt on their trails.
On a chilly but sunny day, participants gathered on the field for activities and hot beverages, followed by talks with Dave Chapman from the Royal Astronomical Society celebrating the history, geology, and significance of the moon. Strong Covid protocols were in place all day!
Chapman introduced simple tools for making moon observations, including moon drawings and logs, as well as how to set up a telescope or binoculars. He explained how moon observation is a great place to start for anyone with an interest in astronomy.
He also shared the project “Mi’kmaw Moons” that he and Mi’kmaw cultural expert Cathy Leblanc of the Acadia First Nations have been working on for five years. For Mi’kmaw people, as well as many other Indigenous groups, observing and understanding the moon cycles is essential to understanding the passing of time and the seasons.
The names of the moon cycles are linked to various environmental and natural phenomena, such as the “fattening of animals”, or “thawing of rivers”. (The “Full Rivers Freezing Over Moon” runs between November 7 and December 6.) Chapman and Curtis L. Michael of the Sipekne’katik First Nation have created a YouTube channel (Mi’kmaw Moons) teaching the meaning, pronunciation, and spelling of the 12 Mi’kmaw Moon names.
“Connecting people of all ages with night skies is a powerful way to connect us all with the natural world,” said DP Executive Director Kim Thompson. “The Deanery is blessed with an amazing dark sky site. We try to highlight night sky program opportunities throughout the year, especially at our annual summer family festival, SeaLight SkyLight.” Thompson noted that the next big astronomical event on the calendar was the Geminids meteor shower, December 13-14.