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, September 6th.
Here's a quiz: What astronomical object looks amazing no matter what the magnification, never looks exactly the same no matter how often you view it, and can be observed even when not a single star is visible in the sky?
Answer: The Moon!
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.
So here's your chance to join a "group viewing" of our closest neighbor world: this Saturday, September 6th, 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 the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, these teams hope to rekindle public interest in observing and studying the Moon.
Participation couldn't be easier: just go outside on the 6th, and look up! You'll be greeted by a lovely, not-quite-full orb seemingly gliding across the southern half of the sky throughout the night. To take the next step, join one of the many organized activities being planned; 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 20:00 UT, or 4 p.m. EDT) using his Virtual Telescope Project.
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 InOMN 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 volunteers to help analyze NASA imagery. 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.
Want to compare the Moon's nearside and farside for yourself? Check out Sky & Telescope's terrific new lunar globes. Choose either the natural-hued Moon you see by eye or the color-coded topographic version.