One of the most fantastic sights you can see is the Moon through a good telescope - the craters and mountains provide a fantastic and memorable experience. The Moonwatch weeks will provide you with an opportunity to see the Moon through a telescope.
Your local astronomical society, university or science centre will be putting on events during the Moonwatch weeks and you can find out what's on near you by visiting "Find Your Local Events" in the left-hand toolbar and entering your postcode.
This is the oppprtunity for you to experience of a wide range of public outreach activities, live science events, observing with telescopes, research observatory webcasts and sidewalk astronomy events.One of the key goals is to have as many people as possible look through a telescope, as Galileo did for the first time 400 years ago.
Put these dates in your diary!
Spring MoonWatch 28 March – 5 April 2009
Autumn MoonWatch 24 October – 1 November 2009
Schools MoonWatch 19 – 29 November 2009
Why these weeks?
The Moon goes through its cycle of phases every month, so why are these weeks so special? The answer is that the SPA has chosen these weeks as being those during which the Moon will be best placed for observation from the UK.
Sometimes, particularly during the summer, the Moon remains quite low in the sky at the most useful time, between the crescent phase and first quarter. But during these weeks, the Moon stays high above the horizon for a long time.
This has two important consequences:
* The higher the Moon is in the sky, the better the ‘seeing’, which is what astronomers call the steadiness of the view. When objects are low in the sky, our turbulent atmosphere causes the image as seen through a telescope to ripple and blur
* The Moon stays observable for longer in the evening. So you can really study all those fascinating mountains, craters and ‘seas’!
The Schools Moonwatch is chosen for a week when it gets dark early, so it'll be possible to observe the Moon right after school. Of course, we can’t guarantee the weather for any of these times, but by making them as long as possible (not actually weeks!) we hope that everyone will get a chance to see something. Some of the jewels of the sky are visible at this time of year, so this could be your chance to spot them for the first time.
For more information, including a guide to observing the Moon, please visit the Society for Popular Astronomy's Moonwatch webpage
Oblique view of the lunar surface from Apollo 15
Are you running an event for Spring Moonwatch? Get info about how to generate local publicity for your event here