International Observe the Moon Night is an event that encourages people to "look up" and enjoy our nearest neighbor. This year's InOMN is Saturday, October 12th.
Amateur astronomers have a love-hate relationship with the Moon. A few really do study it intensively, but lots of diehard skygazers dismiss its big, bright orb as an annoyance that makes it hard to see the stars.
The good news is that these two factions agree that the Moon can be a wonderful viewing target no matter what your level of experience or how well you're equipped to view the night sky. Whether seen by eye, through binoculars, or with a telescope, it's always worth a look.
If you've been looking for an excuse to do some Moonwatching, here it is: October 12th is "International Observe the Moon Night." It's the brainchild of several "Moon Units" within and related to NASA: the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, Lunar Science Institute, Lunar and Planetary Institute, and Lunar Quest. Partnering with Astronomers Without Borders, these teams hope to rekindle public interest in observing and studying the Moon.
The plan is simple: go out and look on the 12th, when a lovely half-lit orb will be gliding across the southern half of the sky. Many organized activities are in the works; check out the event map to find one near you. As just one example, Gianluca Masi plans a live webcast of telescopic viewing (starting at 18:00 UT, or 2 p.m. EDT) using his Virtual Telescope Project.
Or make your own event. Head for a pedestrian hotspot in your town with a telescope in tow, and crowds will surely gather for a look through the eyepiece. (Trust me: no matter how bad your light pollution, the Moon is still an arresting sight when seen telescopically.)
Even if your scope-less, the organizers have pulled together lots of entertaining online content for various sources, such as a lunar-exploration timeline, a guided tour, and a call for Moon-inspired poetry. The event's portal at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center is here.
If you've got the time and inclination to view the Moon multiple times in the coming weeks, I highly recommend Patrick Thibault's can't-miss Month of Moonwatching.