International Observe the Moon Night: 8th October, 2011
International Observe the Moon Night provides an opportunity for people to take notice of the Moon’s beauty and share that experience with one another. The International Observe the Moon Night Team consists of scientists, educators, and Moon enthusiasts from government, non-profit organizations, and businesses around the world.
Visit the InOMN website to find an event near you, register your own event, or explore some great lunar programs and resources like Moon Zoo.
Using a telescope isn't the only way you can explore the Moon. Moon Zoo allows you to see some great images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), and contribute to real science.
The aim of Moon Zoo is to provide detailed crater counts for as much of the Moon's surface as possible. Unlike here on Earth where weather quickly erodes any signs of all but the most recent impacts, craters on the lunar surface stay almost until eternity. That means that the number of craters on a particular piece of the surface tells us how old it is. This technique is used all over the Solar System, but the Moon is particularly important because we have ground truth — samples brought back by the Apollo missions — which allow us to calibrate our estimates. Planetary scientists have always carried out this kind of analysis on large scales, but with your help and the fabulous LRO images then we should be able to uncover the finer details of the Moon's history.
Craters can tell us more than just the history of the lunar surface though. In particular, you're asked in Moon Zoo to look for craters with boulders around the rim. Boulders are a sign that the impact was powerful enough that it excavated rock from beneath the regolith (the lunar 'soil') and so by keeping an eye out for these we can begin to map the depth of the regolith across the surface of the Moon.