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It’s International Observe the Moon Night! Here’s how to celebrate

NASA has declared Saturday, Oct. 21, to be a night to look at the moon. Whether your view of the night sky is from a balcony, backyard or mountaintop, here are some tips for how to observe this unofficial holiday

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The moon rises up over the Wasatch Front in 2005.

The moon rises up over the Wasatch Front on Friday, Aug. 19, 2005.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

NASA is doing its best to get everyone outside and gazing at the moon this weekend — It’s declared Saturday, Oct. 21, to be International Observe the Moon Night.

Here’s everything you need to know about the unofficial holiday and how you can participate.

What is International Observe the Moon Night?

Lunar celebrations are nothing new. Holidays like Lunar New Year, Holi and Easter are all celebrated on days determined by the lunar cycle, and lunar deities like Artemis and Thoth are found throughout world mythology.

International Observe the Moon Night was created by NASA and is observed in September or October each year. According to NASA, the night is a time for budding astronomers and fans of the moon to unite and learn together.

The purpose of the holiday, as stated on NASA’s website, is to encourage the public to observe the moon, learn about astronomy and “honor cultural and personal connections to the moon.”

What is the best way to observe the moon?

This weekend, the moon will be in its first quarter, also called a half moon. According to NASA, this is a great time to observe the moon because the moon’s craters are enhanced by shadow and therefore more visible to observers.

NASA reports that the best way to view the moon is to simply “look up.” However, there are a few ways to enhance the experience.

  • For instance, if you have a telescope or binoculars, those tools will allow you to look more closely at the moon and observe its landscape.
  • You will also have a better view of the moon if you avoid areas with cloudy skies or light pollution. Check your local weather for updates and consider driving out of the city for a better view, although a road trip is typically not necessary.

You might also see some shooting stars — according to NASA, the Orionid meteor shower, caused by detritus from Halley’s comet, will peak this weekend.

Other ways to celebrate

NASA has created a whole host of activities to help people get in the lunar spirit.

If you’ll be in or near Greenbelt, Maryland, on Oct. 21, NASA’s Goddard Visitor Center is hosting a free public event. Attendees can make lunar-themed art, decorate cookies to recreate the phases of the moon, attend presentations and view the moon through telescopes.

NASA is also hosting several livestreams, including views of the moon from around the world and a TV broadcast on NASA’s recent and future lunar exploration.

A list of activity ideas, including a lunar photography guide and moon-inspired crafts, is available on NASA’s website.