The Whole World is Watching
Saturday, October 12, is International Observe the Moon Night, a global celebration of earth’s only natural satellite. InOMN is overseen by “scientists, educators, and moon enthusiasts [who] believe in the inspirational power of the moon — a celestial body that has influenced human lives since the dawn of time.”
The InOMN website, www.observethemoonnight.org, offers activities, maps, resources and a worldwide directory of official events, the nearest at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore: www.mdsci.org. (Events at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt have been canceled due to the government shutdown.)
Gather with friends and family in a dark location Saturday evening to hold your own impromptu event. The waxing gibbous moon appears high in the south at sunset and remains visible until setting in the west-southwest around 1am. If you’d like a little more structure, download the InOMN activity binder, Moon Viewing Ideas for the Whole Family.
Still live despite the government shutdown, NASA’s own website, www.moon.nasa.gov/inomn.cfm, has many InOMN resources, including a Moon Toolkit, maps indicating the different lunar landings and a page on Common Moon Misconceptions.
The world is also watching a far more rare interstellar object this week: Comet ISON. No one knows whether this interloper from the outer limits of the solar system will flare into a once-in-a-lifetime event or fizzle. ISON will be its brightest at its closest point to the sun late in November — provided it doesn’t disintegrate as it warms.
Now, the comet has rounded the corner from behind the sun. Look for it with binoculars before dawn in the east-southeast near Mars and Regulus. From Monday to Wednesday, ISON is one degree from the red planet, which is in turn one degree from Regulus.