Eyes to the sky – observing the full moon

Observing the moon:

Something I enjoy doing with my children is looking at the moon, sometimes with an inexpensive (ie kid-friendly) telescope.  (My favorite is when the kids actually observe and point out the moon to me!)  I recently attempted a nature club meet up to view the full moon with a telescope.  However, I learned from an astronomer I contacted through a local astronomy club that viewing the full moon with a telescope is not ideal (I didn’t know this!).

Per the astrologer (whose name I will share with permission):

              “The full moon is big and bright, but it’s the worst time to look at it in a telescope.  The reason is partly because in the telescope it becomes almost too bright (sometimes painfully so), and partly because when the entire moon is lit by the sun, there are no shadows to emphasize the moon’s mountains and craters.  The best way look at the moon in a telescope is when the moon is not full,and to look just on the “bright” side of the line dividing the light and dark areas.  That’s where the moon’s shadows are longest and darkest, which makes the craters and hills stand out best.”

An online search led me to a great article discussing basics of moon observing, even discussing specific features of the moon. (Article here ) According to the article from space.com, the best time to observe the moon in a few days after the first quarter because:

·     ”  The moon is in fine position for evening study.

·       Nearly all of the major lunar features can be seen.

·       The moon is not sufficiently bright to cause loss of detail through glare.

·       As the line of darkness – called the terminator – recedes, features near the border stand out in bold relief; the shadows become stronger and details are more easily seen.”

 Happy moon gazing with your littles!