Look up: International Observe the Moon Night is a great reason to sky gaze

Central Florida astronomers hosting virtual watch parties

The last week of September brings less miserable temperatures to Florida and also the perfect opportunity to look up at Earth’s nearest neighbor, the moon.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The last week of September brings less miserable temperatures to Florida and also the perfect opportunity to look up at Earth’s nearest neighbor, the moon.

Every year, International Observe the Moon Night occurs in September or October when the Moon is around first quarter. This year the day falls on Saturday, Sept. 26.

“The first quarter Moon is a great phase for observing, and special for this weekend: because of how the Moon and Earth are positioned in their orbits at this time, we’ll be able to peek a little farther around the edge of the Moon than we are typically able to do, which means we’ll be able to see some features that are typically on the far side of the Moon!” Director of International Observe the Moon Night Andrea Jones said. You will also be able to see the locations of every Apollo landing site, lots of lunar mare (or cooled seas of lava), and some spect mountain scenery, impact crater rims. "

According to NASA, the goal of the global moon celebration is to unite people by honoring lunar observation, science, art and exploration. In less than four years, NASA plans to land humans back on the moon under the Artemis program.

[MORE SPACE NEWS: 15 things you (probably) didn’t know about the moon]

Every year, NASA, other international space agencies and astronomy groups around the world team up to host moon-viewing events. This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, those viewing events have gone virtual.

NASA will offer six hours of programming online and through social media all about the moon to mark the celebration.

Several of these online watch parties are being hosted by Central Florida astronomers, among them are Emil Buehler Planetarium at Seminole State College and the AIAA Cape Canaveral chapter.

Planetarium Director Derek Demeter and planetarium specialist Justin Cirillo will host a virtual sky party on Saturday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The free event will be on Facebook live as they point telescopes toward the moon. RSVP to get a reminder here.

The American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics Cape Canaveral chapter is hosting two virtual events beginning on Friday. These events are open to members and nonmembers alike. They are free but the nonprofit asks you RSVP. Click here to do that.

On Friday, from 7 to 8 p.m., AIAA will host a chat about NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, currently orbiting the moon, with a member of the spacecraft engineering team. On Saturday, the Florida Institute of Technology Aerospace, Physics, and Space Sciences Department will offer a virtual tour of the Moons in our solar system. To register, email dfleming@fit.edu to receive log-in information.

In case Central Florida is stuck with stormy weather or cloudy sky on Sept. 26, there are other non-local options. NASA is also hosting a number of lunar-learning opportunities on the Observe the Moon Night. Check out the full list here.

Find a locally-hosted event and register to host your own at moon.nasa.gov.

Next year, International Observe the Moon Night is Oct. 16.

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