‘Observe the Moon Night’ to
Light Up Skywatchers on Saturday
This weekend, the nearly full moon will to take center stage Saturday night for skywatchers around the world.
Amateur astronomers and casual stargazers are gearing up for the second annual International Observe the Moon Night on Saturday (Oct. 8), in what promises to be a fun and stimulating public event, organizers say.
NASA and lunar enthusiasts the world over are set to celebrate Earth’s natural satellite tomorrow in a worldwide event designed to engage people in lunar science and education. Space enthusiasts and the general public are invited to gather together, look up, and learn more about the enchanting moon.
International Observe the Moon Night got its
start after two earlier NASA celebrations that aimed to spark interest and
enthusiasm about Earth’s nearest neighbor in the sky.
The full moon is expected to peak on Oct. 12, but it will be the smallest and most distant full moon of the year. This year’s International Observe the Moon Night also coincides with the peak of the Draconid meteor
shower, which is expected to deliver hundreds of “shooting stars” per
hour. But, the meteor shower’s peak could be largely invisible to skywatchers, since it occurs during daylight hours in North America, and elsewhere, the nearly full moon will likely outshine the pretty light show.
The event organizers include scientists, educators and moon buffs from
government, non-profit organizations and businesses across the U.S. and the world.
“We believe in the inspirational power of the moon — a celestial body that
has influenced human lives since the dawn of time,” the event’s website reads.
“Through International Observe the Moon Night, we hope [to] instill in the
public a sense of wonderment and curiosity about our moon.”
Last year, there were 278 moon-watching events in more than 40 countries, including China, Germany and Egypt.
NASA has one spacecraft circling the moon, a pair of small spacecraft that recently entered into the moon’s orbit, and a pair of twin probes that are expected to arrive at the moon by New Year’s Day.
The unmanned Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has been circling the moon since June 2009. The car-size spacecraft recently snapped images of three Apollo landing sites that revealed new details about the regions on the moon that were visited by humans. The $504 million probe is currently on an extended mission through at least September 2012. The two small Artemis probes, which stand for Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun, began their lunar orbit journey over a year and a half ago. This summer, both probes entered into lunar orbit, where they will study the moon’s interior and surface composition.
Last month, NASA successfully launched two identical spacecraft on a mission to unlock mysteries of the moon that are hidden beneath its surface. The $496 million Grail mission (short for Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory) will closely study the interior of the moon, from crust to core, and will map the moon’s gravitational field in unprecedented detail.
To learn about any International Observe the
Moon Night activities in your area, check out the event’s website.