A Night to Howl at the Moon

International Observe the Moon Night is an event that encourages people to "look up" and enjoy our nearest neighbor. This year's InOMN is Saturday, October 12th.

Amateur astronomers have a love-hate relationship with the Moon. A few really do study it intensively, but lots of diehard skygazers dismiss its big, bright orb as an annoyance that makes it hard to see the stars.

A crescent Moon joins Venus on the evening of September 11, 2010, as seen by skywatchers in Firuzkuh, Iran.
The good news is that these two factions agree that the Moon can be a wonderful viewing target no matter what your level of experience or how well you're equipped to view the night sky. Whether seen by eye, through binoculars, or with a telescope, it's always worth a look.

If you've been looking for an excuse to do some Moonwatching, here it is: October 12th is "International Observe the Moon Night." It's the brainchild of several "Moon Units" within and related to NASA: the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, Lunar Science Institute, Lunar and Planetary Institute, and Lunar Quest. Partnering with Astronomers Without Borders, these teams hope to rekindle public interest in observing and studying the Moon.

The plan is simple: go out and look on the 12th, when a lovely half-lit orb will be gliding across the southern half of the sky. Many organized activities are in the works; check out the event map to find one near you. As just one example, Gianluca Masi plans a live webcast of telescopic viewing (starting at 18:00 UT, or 2 p.m. EDT) using his Virtual Telescope Project.

LPI / AWB
Or make your own event. Head for a pedestrian hotspot in your town with a telescope in tow, and crowds will surely gather for a look through the eyepiece. (Trust me: no matter how bad your light pollution, the Moon is still an arresting sight when seen telescopically.)

Even if your scope-less, the organizers have pulled together lots of entertaining online content for various sources, such as a lunar-exploration timeline, a guided tour, and a call for Moon-inspired poetry. The event's portal at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center is here.

If you've got the time and inclination to view the Moon multiple times in the coming weeks, I highly recommend Patrick Thibault's can't-miss Month of Moonwatching.

3 thoughts on “A Night to Howl at the Moon

  1. Anthony Barreiro

    Last night, Thursday October 10, four members of the San Francisco Amateur Astronomers helped with an IOMN preview event at Cleveland Elementary School in San Francisco. About 100 students plus their families. We had modest telescopes, 70 mm to 204 mm. Some of the youngest children didn’t really understand what they were seeing, but most of the kids and their parents were amazed by how much detail you can see on the surface of the Moon through a telescope. It was a great opportunity to publicize our club’s activities, to teach children and adults about astronomy, and perhaps to spark a lifelong interest in the sky and the universe. All in an hour.

  2. prf patrick morton robles astroclub

    GREETINGS GREETINGS-SALUDOS SALUDOS AMIGOS(AS) WE INVITE YOU ALL TO JOIN THIS WONDERFULL INOM 2013 OBSERVE THE MOON !! WERE HAVING LECTURES AND A DRAWING CONTESTS ABOUT WHAT IS OBSERVABLE IN THE MOON TONIGHT !! WITH CUTE PRIZES AND EVERYTHING,WERE THE CLUB ASTRONOMIA LOS ROBLES, EN MARACACIBO,VENEZUELA,FUNDADOS HACE 20 AÑOS,Y CONFORMADOS POR ESTUDIANTES Y MAESTROS DE 14 DIFRENTES COLEGIOS Y 4 UNIVERSIDADES-NOS GUSTA APRENDER CON OTROS GRUPOS DE ASTRONOMIA, COMPARTIR,Y PARTICIPAR EN DIFERENTES PROYECTOS Y CONCURSOS TALES COMO LOS QUE ORGANIZAN NASA,ESA,PLANETARY SOCIETY,ASTRONMICL SOCIETY OF THE PACIFIC,SALLY RIDE INSTITUTE,NASA RADIOJOVE, JPL-SCIENTIST FOR DAY,ROCKS AROUND THE WORLD(ASU) ETC.POR CIERTO KRUGER KILLERMAN ES NUESTRA MASCOTA LECHUZA,SALUDOS,PRF,PATRICK Y ALUMNOS(AS)
    GREETINGS DEAR FRIENDS,PLEASE JOIN INOM 2013, WHAT A WONDERFULL OPORTUNITY TO UNITE THE WORLD…,WE ARE LOS ROBLES ASTRONOMY CLUB,LOCATED IN MARACAIBO,VENEZUELA,FOUNDED 20 YEARS AGO, WE ARE AN ASSEMBLY OF STUDENTS AND TEACHERS FROM 14 SCHOOLS AND 4 LOCAL UNIVERSITIES,WE LIKE TO LEARN,SHARE AND PARTICIPATE WITH OTHER INTL GROUPS AND AMATEUR ASTRONOMERSIN PROJECTS AND CONTESTSFOR STUDENTS ORGANIZED BY NASA,ESA, PLANETARY SOCIETY,ASTRONMICAL SOCIEY OF THE PACIFIC, NASA RADIOJOVE,SALLY RIDE INSTITUTE,ROCKS AROUND THE WORLD(ASU),,JPL SCIENTIST FOR A DAY,AND SO ON ENJOYING THE WONDERS OF THE UNIVERSE-BY THE WAY…KRUGER KILLERMAN IS OUR PET OWL,BEST REGARDS,PROF PATRICK AND STUDENTS

  3. Mike Martin

    The link above to the portal to NASA can not be Downloaded. This is it busy due to the Government Shutdown . I hope the Kids are not disappointed. Sorry. Thanks All and Clear Skies Mike

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