JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – This weekend will be the BEST time to view the lunar landscape, because the Moon will be half illuminated in its first quarter phase. You will see a stunning landscape of lunar mountains and craters along the line between light and dark – day and night on the Moon. And there’s an extra special treat this weekend: because of the Moon’s slight apparent wobble in its orbit around the Earth, we will get to peek around the edge of the Moon, glimpsing what’s usually hidden on its far side.
NASA has declared Friday night it’s annual International Observe The Moon Night. The celebration occurs annually in September or October, when the Moon is around first quarter ― a great phase for evening observing. Furthermore, a first-quarter Moon offers excellent viewing opportunities along the terminator (the line between night and day), where shadows enhance the Moon’s cratered landscape.
Here’s a moon map, with points of interest to look out for, like three landing sites from Apollo missions.
Kids activities to learn more about the moon
If you want to involve your kids with International Observe The Moon Night, here are some activities to help them get excited and learn more about the moon
Sketch the moon- learn about the moon phases and how the moon looks during different nights of the month. Includes a printable download from NASA
Make your own lunar lander - Make your very own lander, with a shock-absorbing system which will protect two “astronauts” when they land on a lunar landscape target.
Moon myths from around the world - There are as many stories about the patterns on the face of the Moon as there are cultures who have observed them. Discover a variety of characters seen by cultures around the world, and create your own.
SPLAT! - Learn how craters on the moon formed from lunar impacts using water balloons
Moon leap - Find out how high you could jump on the Moon and other worlds.
Moon photo challenge bingo - Channel your inner astronaut! Take a picture of yourself completing each of the Moon challenges from the sheet provided.
NASA’s past and future missions to the moon
One of the goals of International Observe The Moon Night is to raise awareness of NASA’s lunar science and exploration programs.
Through the Apollo program, humans first stepped foot on the Moon in 1969, and NASA continues to build on that legacy. NASA launched the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) in 2009, and since then it has collected more data than all other planetary science missions combined. This data helps us further examine the places the astronauts walked 50 years ago, and is paving the way for the next humans to step foot on the Moon with the Artemis program in 2024.
As we remember the past, we look towards the future with the Artemis program. NASA will land the first woman and next man on the Moon, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before. We will collaborate with our commercial and international partners and establish sustainable exploration by the end of the decade. Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars. Our Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been at the Moon for 11 years now, providing a wealth of data on the Moon’s resources.
Viewers can learn more about NASA lunar science and participate in International Observe the Moon Night from any location. To learn more, register participation and find recommended activities, tips and resources to host and evaluate events, and much more, viewers can visit the International Observe the Moon Night website.
Upcoming dates for International Observe the Moon Night
- September 26, 2020
- October 16, 2021
- October 1, 2022