We’ve all seen it floating over the horizon glowing orange, lighting the night sky, or high in the blue sky early in the morning. Our closest celestial neighbor, the moon, can be seen just about every day of the year (unless you live in upstate New York where clouds come out of nowhere). It is our constant companion and contributes to the tidal forces here on earth. 43 years ago images of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon inspired a generation of astronomers, scientists, and astronauts to explore the vast reaches of our universe.
Although many people see the moon every week they don’t take the time to really observe it. Some have never looked at it up close and gazed upon it’s barren beauty. This Saturday, September 22, 2012, you should take a closer look at our constant companion. There’s plenty to see with the unaided eye but a pair of binoculars will bring out features that you’ve never seen before. If you’ve never looked at the moon through a telescope, now is your chance. Find an event near you and have a look. Some astronomers have filters that can bring out certain features on the moon. You won’t be able to see the Eagle at Tranquility Base but you will have a new appreciation for our ever-present neighbor.
As homeschoolers, this is a great educational opportunity. Amateur astronomers are always eager to share their knowledge and you’ll get their full attention if you start asking questions. Have your kids bring along a sketch book and draw what they saw. Ask them if they can see the sun rising on the moon. Even if it’s cloudy this is still an opportunity to talk about the moon.
For more information about International Observe the Moon Night visit http://observethemoonnight.org/. There are materials for hosting your own event as well as other information about how you can participate in or host an event. There are also some free PowerPoint and PDF presentations you can use to talk about the moon. Also, listen to a podcast about this event at 365 Days of Astronomy podcast. Don’t miss this great educational opportunity!