People taking part in International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) on Saturday (Oct. 20) have an extra thing to celebrate: the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon program this month. And there are many ways for the public to get involved, starting with this map of worldwide events on NASA's website.
InOMN has been running since 2010 to help people celebrate the "cultural and personal connections" that Earthlings have with the moon, our nearest large neighbor in space, according to NASA. Coincidentally, this year's event coincides with the anniversary of the launch of the Earth-orbiting Apollo 7, 50 years ago. Apollo 8, which orbited the moon, will celebrate its 50th anniversary in December. [The Moon! 10 Surprising Lunar Facts]
"The anniversary presents an opportunity to discuss past, present and future lunar and planetary science and exploration and to celebrate all of the people who participated and shared in this human triumph," NASA said in a statement.
InOMN takes place each year in September or October when the moon is at its first quarter, meaning that its phase is in between a new moon and a full moon. When the moon is half-lit, its rugged terrain shows up more easily due to the shadows, especially around the day-night line (called the terminator).
For aspiring observers, NASA published 10 tips for exploring the moon, ranging from using binoculars, to creating art, to using real-life data via a NASA website called Moon Trek. The agency also published a suite of moon-related online educational resources for teachers. When students need a break from learning, they can even play with a moon maze.
NASA now explores the moon using the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which will enter its 10th year of operations next year. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the spacecraft, and the public can celebrate InOMN in-person at Goddard from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. EDT.
The event will include hands-on activities and exhibits, a lunar art gallery, teacher resources, and a group of people giving personal stories about the Apollo program. The Goddard Astronomy Club also plans to set up telescopes for visitors to look at the moon and other objects, weather permitting. More details about the event are here.
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