Join the world in celebrating the moon Saturday night

moon
Saturday night is “International Observe the Moon Night.” (WTOP/Greg Redfern)

International Observe the Moon Night is Saturday. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the annual event, taking place a few months after the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s moon landing.

It also coincides with the annual World Space Week, Oct. 4-10. This year’s theme is “The Moon: Gateway to the Stars.”

Since 2010, International Observe the Moon Night has “invited participants all over the world to come together, watch the moon and celebrate our nearest celestial neighbor.”

Observers and lovers of Earth’s satellite will be looking at the moon and taking part in moon-watching events.

This year, around D.C., there are a number of events. The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, the Maryland Science Center and the National Air and Space Museum’s Haas Public Observatory are among those hosting the night’s events.

Visit NASA’s website for further information and to see if there is an event near you.

Join the world’s celebration of lunar exploration and science by looking at the alluring and inspiring moon. Take a look at the moon any night it is visible and you can see two basic colors — white and gray. The white is the ancient lunar crust, while the gray marks areas where lunar lava filled in huge impact basins caused by asteroids and comets hitting the moon.

Modern optical aids, such as binoculars or small telescopes, will show the moon in wondrous detail. You can also see craters on the moon with your unaided eye, especially bright Tycho, with its rays on the lower full moon, and Copernicus in the middle of the moon when it is 10 days old.

Get out and ponder the moon. Humanity is headed back to stay this time.

By the way, that bright “star” to the upper right of the moon you will see is the ringed planet Saturn, at over 900 million km from Earth. Its light takes almost 83 minutes to reach Earth as compared to 1.3 light seconds for moonlight to reach us.

International Observe the Moon Night is sponsored by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and NASA Goddard’s Solar System Exploration Division, with support from many partners.

Follow my Twitter feed (@skyguyinva) and daily blog to keep up with the latest news in astronomy and space exploration. You can email me at skyguyinva@gmail.com.

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