This sample program can be modified for virtual or in-person facilitation at a wide range of scales.
First, welcome participants to your event. Let people know what activities or talks will be happening throughout the evening, where to find them, and/or how to access them.
If you are gathering at a physical site, this is a great time to review the locations of facilities and any safety procedures or precautions you’d like your participants to take, including how to safely and politely use telescopes throughout the evening. For a virtual event, this is a good time to establish your expectations for courteous engagement.
Discuss what people should expect to see on the Moon that evening. What sorts of features are visible with the naked eye? Will any features (such as those along the terminator) be specifically highlighted during telescope observations?
It is also important to let people know the kinds of things they will not be able to see through a telescope, such as landing sites or the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. This is your chance to set up reasonable expectations for your audience.
Depending on whether all of your participants are expected to arrive at once, or trickle in throughout the evening, you may want to highlight this information again later in the evening.
Having one or more telescopes through which people can view the Moon enhances any International Observe the Moon Night event. Check with your local astronomy club to see whether their members can bring (or livestream) telescopes to your event and guide visitors through lunar and celestial observing. We suggest having different telescopes or live feeds look at different lunar features, particularly for larger in-person groups, so you don’t have to spend time adjusting the telescope.
If telescopes are not available, or if your event is in a location where telescopes would be hard to bring, binoculars are a great alternative.
Lunar Talk by a Local Expert
Another excellent way to enhance an International Observe the Moon Night event is to introduce, or re-familiarize, attendees with the main attraction of the evening: our partner on our journey through the cosmos — the Moon. Invite a local expert, perhaps a professor at a university or an educator at a science museum, to speak about the Moon remotely or in person.
Engage your participants with hands-on activities. Our activities are freely available online ― if you’re hosting a virtual event, just share the links ahead of time to help your audience join in from wherever they are. Encourage observers to find the features highlighted in their Moon maps and start Moon observation journals. Make impact crater models or Moon cookies or scale models of the solar system. Draw, paint, or sculpt the Moon; sing Moon songs; read Moon stories; or compose lunar poetry. Highlight how the Moon is connected with other planets and satellites in our solar system, and beyond. Feel free to be creative! Play to the interests and needs of your audience, as well as your staff/volunteers.
Here are a few example activity and resource collections, which you can draw from when planning your event (see the Activities page for more):
Explore! with the Lunar and Planetary Institute
Gallery of Moon Images
Are you worried about inclement weather affecting your chances of Moon viewing? Will part of your in-person event be indoors? Whether you would like to decorate your event space or ensure that all of your guests will be able to observe the Moon, regardless of the weather, you can find printable high-resolution images of the Moon from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in the Smithsonian gallery A New Moon Rises or in the Moon as Art collection.
Are you curious what your participants thought of your event? Review our tips for evaluation.
Before your attendees are exhausted from all of the fun they are having, please be sure to share observer surveys. Feedback from your participants will let you know what the best parts of your event were, and what could be improved for next year. Download observer and host evaluation survey forms ahead of time, and/or have electronic observer surveys available or easily accessible. If you have extra helpers or volunteers on hand, they can assist in recruiting participants to fill out their observer surveys.
After your event concludes, remember to fill out a host survey. This feedback helps us to support you and other hosts better in future years.