Bad Astronomy

Go look at the Moon tonight!

iotmnlogoTonight is the first annual International Observe the Moon Night, an effort spearheaded by folks at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to get people outside and looking at the sky.

This is a pretty neat idea; the Moon is big and easy to spot, and really cool through even a small telescope. GSFC has partnered with hundreds of groups to set up observing sessions all over the planet, and there’s probably one near you.

They picked a good night: the Moon will be waxing gibbous tonight, meaning it’s halfway between first quarter and full. It’s already up before the Sun sets, so it’s easily visible even during the early evening, and you don’t have to stay up late to see it. There will still be crater shadows, too (at full Moon, the Sun shines straight down on the Moon from our view and you can’t see shadows, making craters difficult to spot).

So go outside and take a look! And even though you won’t be able to see it, remember that we have a space probe orbiting the Moon right now, just starting up its science mission. There’s still a lot to learn about our nearest cosmic neighbor.