One day each year, everyone on earth is invited to unite in order to observe and learn about the moon and its connection to planetary science. This special day, called International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN), is a NASA-sponsored, annual worldwide celebration of lunar science and exploration, and it’s a great opportunity to share personal and community connections we all have to the moon. Join the celebration by hosting or attending an InOMN event—and by looking at and learning about the moon! You can learn more and find lunar viewing events near you at www.observethemoonnight.org.
This year, the date of International Observe the Moon Night is September 19, 2015–right before a supermoon total lunar eclipse on September 27–28, 2015! What is a supermoon total eclipse? Watch this short NASA video below to find out.
With InOMN and a supermoon lunar eclipse on the way, there is no better time than the present to learn more about the moon. For new lunar observers, there are tons of great ways to get started: you can keep a moon observation journal to track the moon’s phases and when you can see them in the sky, use a moon map to find and learn about the moon’s features, or even make a moon crater painting! For even more ways to learn about the moon, visit www.observethemoonnight.org/activities.
Keep a Moon Journal
Observe the moon each day for one month. The shape the moon appears and the times it rises and sets are different each day. Get more familiar with one of the most important patterns in our sky—the phases of the moon—by keeping a record of what you see.
To find out what the moon looks like right now, and at any hour of 2015, check out this website. You can also watch the moon go through phases and “wobble” in the sky (something called “libration”) through the animation below, created using data and images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). Learn more about LRO and see more lunar visualizations here.
Identify Features on the Moon
For a printable map of the moon that you can take with you when you celebrate InOMN 2015, click here. Most of the highlighted features on the map are along the terminator—that is, the line between day and night. The shadows along this line make for great observing, just like dawn and dusk on earth are great times for taking pictures.
Create a Moon Impact Painting
Model how scientists use impact craters to determine the ages of a lunar surface: throw cotton balls coated in different colors of paint at paper to simulate asteroids hitting the moon over time. It’s messy, colorful, and fun.
International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) is an annual worldwide public event that encourages observation, appreciation, and understanding of our moon and its connection to planetary science and exploration. Everyone on Earth is invited to join the celebration by hosting or attending an InOMN event—and uniting on one day each year to look at and learn about the moon together. InOMN is sponsored by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA's Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), and the Lunar and Planetary Institute. Visit www.observethemoonnight.org to find information about how to host, register, and evaluate your InOMN event, look for an InOMN event near you, find lunar and planetary science and exploration resources, and share pictures and highlights from your InOMN experience.
The International Observe the Moon Night Team is made up of scientists, educators, and lunar enthusiasts from government, nonprofit, and business organizations from across the United States and the world.
The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.
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