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International Observe the Moon Night
October 04, 2019
The first quarter is one of the best phases of the Moon to observe. Because the shadow, or Lunar Terminator; crosses straight down the middle, which gives you a long swath of detail. Even a small pair of binoculars will spot some of it. But it’s best observed with a telescope. Any telescope will do. Even that toy one in the attic. Get it down because people around the world will be doing the same thing.
International Observe the Moon Night was started in 2010 by NASA. Specifically, the group responsible for its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Launched in the summer of 2009, it continues to deliver important data today, as well as photos and video of the lunar surface--including the landing sites of all six successful crewed lunar surface missions.
And while you can’t see those with a telescope, you can definitely see detail like craters and mountains. And since the shadow crosses faster during a first quarter moon, you might just notice first light hit a particularly high peak or the craggy rim of a crater if you stay with it long enough.
International Observe The Moon Night also coincides with an opportunity to move your telescope slightly to the right to see the jewel of the Solar System. Saturn is right next door and shows itself as a bright yellow point of light that doesn’t twinkle. Most telescopes will show Saturn’s rings either as two bulges on either side in very small telescopes, or a breathtaking view with stunning detail like the Cassini Division--the split between the two most visible rings.