As NASA looks forward to putting the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024, a public engagement program designed to increase awareness of lunar science and exploration will celebrate its 10th year on Oct. 5.
The program was inspired by celebration events hosted at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley in 2009. The events were in honor of NASA’s return to the Moon with the launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite missions. This year’s celebrations take place on Oct. 5.
The following year the event went international and became known as International Observe the Moon Night. In ten years, this program has expanded across the globe — and above it, to the International Space Station.
Celebrations grew from 52 countries participating in 2010 to 75 countries hosting events in 2018.
“It is a peaceful way to unite the planet,” said Andrea Jones, International Observe the Moon Director from Goddard. “Everyone, everywhere can get involved. You don’t need any special equipment to observe or celebrate the Moon, and we all have a connection to the Moon — through our personal experiences, our art, our language. The Moon has also played a starring role in our exploration of our solar system and beyond, which is an inspiration to many of us and something that connects the Moon to space science and exploration on a broad scale.”
Each year, thousands of people worldwide participate in events at museums/science centers, libraries, planetariums/observatories, schools, universities, parks, community centers and private residences/businesses. People, young and old, come together to learn about lunar science, see the Moon, stars, and planets through telescopes and participate in hands on experiments/activities.
Jones said, “Everyone, everywhere can participate. Events can be as simple as back yard observations or huge events with thousands of people. We’ve added an option to register as a lunar observer, so even individuals can participate. We encourage people to take International Observe the Moon Night and make it their own.”
Statistics from last year’s global event highlights the reach of the program.
- Six continents participated
- 75 countries hosted events
- All 50 U.S. states participated
- 160,000 participants worldwide in 2018
- 1.4 million participants since 2010
To date, over 900 events have been registered for the 2019 celebrations.
The Moon is the stepping stone to the cosmos and for discussions of lunar and planetary science, exploration and celestial observation.
“We feature all of NASA science and exploration in our events at Goddard, and encourage others to do the same,” said Jones. “Start with the Moon, and then launch from there to tell your NASA story.”
This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. In 2019, International Observe the Moon Night offers an opportunity to celebrate past, present and future lunar exploration around the world at a time when we are building on the legacy of Apollo, reshaping our understanding of the Moon with an international fleet of robotic explorers, and preparing to go forward to the Moon through NASA’s Artemis program.
NASA is committed to landing American astronauts, including the first woman and the next man, on the Moon by 2024. Through the agency’s Artemis lunar exploration program, NASA will use innovative new technologies and systems to explore more of the Moon than ever before.
International Observe the Moon Night is sponsored by LRO and the Solar System Exploration Division of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, with support from many partners. 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of LRO at the Moon. The mission is the longest running lunar orbiter in history. Its observations have enabled numerous groundbreaking discoveries, creating a new picture of the Moon as a dynamic and complex body.
To register an event and to learn more about International Observe the Moon Night, go to:
To learn about NASA’s Artemis program, visit:
To learn about LRO, visit: