This Saturday, celebrate International Observe the Moon Night with NASA
The history of the Moon is deeply linked to the history of our own planet. We share space – literally – with it, and everything we learn about the Moon helps us better understand Earth and our place in the solar system. And many of us have a deeply personal connection to the Moon, says Andrea Jones, director of International Observe the Moon Night.
“Whenever we have an event, one of my favorite questions to ask is, ‘What’s your favorite memory with the Moon in it? Everyone I’ve asked has an answer,” she says.
Together to celebrate the Moon
The idea for International Observe the Moon Night dates back to 2009, says Jones, who is also public engagement manager for the Solar System Exploration Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. That year, NASA launched two sister missions to the Moon: the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS). To celebrate, NASA Goddard and NASA Ames hosted events to commemorate the arrival of these spacecraft on the Moon.
“People were so excited about the events, way beyond any expectation of what we thought people would be interested in,” Jones said. “Our teams were like, we have to do this again.”
The following year, NASA teams planned to hold a nationwide moon viewing night. But it quickly became clear – especially after conversations with global astronomy organization Astronomers Without Borders – that the event should be global. Thus, the very first International Observe the Moon Night was born in 2010.
“Essentially, it’s a day every year that we invite people to observe the Moon, learn more about the Moon, and celebrate our personal and cultural connections to the Moon,” says Jones. “That’s been the case since day one, and it continues today.”
Last year, 500,000 people participated from 50 states and more than 120 countries, spanning all seven continents. The event saw over 1,600 events, ranging from private single-family events to public events hosting tens of thousands of people.
“The event has grown from something very small to something huge, but it still has the same heart,” Jones says. “It’s in communities and in people’s lives, like we always wanted.”