To welcome participants to your event, you can start with an introduction to the evening. Let people know what activities or talks will be happening throughout the evening, and where they will be located. 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.
Another important topic to discuss is 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 repeat this talk later in the evening so that all guests get a chance to hear it.
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 telescopes to your event and guide visitors through lunar and celestial observing. We suggest having different telescopes look at different lunar features, particularly for larger 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.
Engage your participants in hands-on activities at your International Observe the Moon Night event. Encourage visitors 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! Be creative! Play to the interests and needs of your audience, as well as your staff/volunteers.
Example activity and resource collections, which you can draw from when planning your event (see the Activities page for more):
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission Education Resources
Night Sky Network Outreach Resources
Gallery of Moon Images
Will part of your event be indoors? Are you worried about inclement weather affecting your chances of Moon viewing at your event? 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.
Depending on your budget and where you host your International Observe the Moon Night event, you may be able to offer refreshments to your guests. If you do provide refreshments, try incorporating the lunar theme! For example, some activities from this collection help visitors learn about the Moon–and give them a tasty treat.
Surveys for 2018 International Observe the Moon Night events are coming soon.
Before all of your attendees are exhausted from all of the fun they are having, please be sure to distribute survey forms. Feedback from your participants will let you know what the best parts of your event were, and what could be improved for next year. Be sure to download participant and host evaluation survey forms, and/or have electronic surveys available or easily accessible.
Tip: If you do have a refreshments table, consider putting your survey forms there. It’s sure to be a popular spot! Or, if you have extra helpers or volunteers on hand, they could assist in recruiting participants to fill them out.
After your event concludes, don’t forget to fill out the host survey yourself!