Today, we turn to the Moon. September 18 marks the first International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN). The event began last year at NASA to celebrate the beginning of the U.S. Lunar Reconnaissance Observer (LRO) satellite mission, which will collect detailed information and images of the lunar environment.
This year, the event goes global to raise public awareness and understanding of the Moon. To see what’s going on with InOMN, and to look for local events, check out the InOMN website here: http://observethemoonnight.org/.
And wander out for yourself over the next few nights to see the waxing gibbous Moon move towards full on September 23. With your unaided eye, you’ll see the dark patches of the lunar maria and lighter areas of the lunar highlands, the oldest part of the Moon’s surface left over from the days of its formation. The maria appear darker because they’re made of smooth iron-rich material that reflects less light than the highlands.
Can you see the image of “the Man in the Moon”? Have a look as the Moon approaches full. The eyes are made from Mare Imbrium and Mare Tranquilitatis, the nose from Sinus Aestuum, and the mouth from Mare Nubium (see image above). The maps below helps you figure out which maria is which. Though in the southern hemisphere, the face will appear mostly upside down.
While the Moon covers a patch of sky no bigger than your little fingernail, there are hundreds of sights to see, even with a small telescope. We’ll have more tours of the Moon over the coming weeks and months in our articles. And stay tuned for the release of our full ‘multi-media course’ on the Moon which will show you how to find hundreds of craters, mountains, and other features on the lunar surface.