The Moon our own natural satellite is the only Moon with a capital M. Earth's moon.
There are many moons in the solar system. Jupiter and Saturn each have over 60 but there is only one Moon...ours.
This also applies to the Sun. There are many suns, all of which are stars but only one Sun with a capital S.
Earth's Moon or Luna in Latin, sits there night after night waiting for you to explore it.
Here's a video from my affiliate partner Orion Telescopes with some Moon viewing tips.
What are you waiting for?
Take some time to check out our nearest celestial neighbor.
As a child during the early days of Moon landings I always tried to see the astronauts walking on the surface. Unfortunately this is impossible... even with a telescope which I didn't have.
With or without viewing aids the Moon should be one of the beginning stargazers first and most frequent stops.
You can use a lunar map to find the landing spots but you won't see any of the equipment they left behind it's just too small.
Generally the viewable sights on the surface are a mile wide or very close to it.
One of the better known features for moon watchers are the craters. Caused by numerous meteorite impacts over the life of the Moon they draw the eye automatically.
Unlike Earth with its relatively thick atmosphere that keeps meteors from having a great impact on the planet, the thin atmosphere on the Moon doesn't stop incoming missiles.
Earth has not escaped this altogether but an incoming meteor must be very large to reach the planet surface as a meteorite and cause significant damage.
One such example is Meteor Crater in Arizona.
But the Moon is covered with them and they make a great sight for the backyard stargazer.
Mare(mar A) are the volcanic “seas” that cover the Moon. These are the dark areas we see as we look at the Moon.
The maria(mar E uh) are what causes the different pictures such as “the man in the moon” face people believe they see.
There are mountains and valleys there as well. Many of these features are named after similar places here on Earth.
One thing to remember is that it's better to view the Moon when it isn't full. When full the brightness of the light can actually obscure details of your observations.
A good method is to observe the Moon during the various lunar phases and watch as different features appear night after night along the terminator, this is the line between the light and dark areas.
Just to clear up a common misconception about the Moon, there is no permanently dark-side.
The entire Moon at various times receives sunlight. The thought of a dark-side is caused by the fact that the Moon always has one side facing earth.
This is the “near side”.
We see the same features and landmarks so it seems like the other half is always in darkness.
image of the far side of Earth's Moon.
During the new moon and during a solar eclipse the opposite side, the “far side”, is in complete sunlight, we just can't see it.
A solar eclipse occurs when the new moon passes between the Sun and Earth blocking out the sunlight.
A lunar eclipse is the opposite. This occurs when the full moon passes into the Earth's shadow and the reflecting light of the Sun is block by the planet.
Two other stargazing delights are conjunctions and occultations.
Occultations happen when the Moon passes in front of or eclipses another planet or bright star. More likely to occur with planets because of traveling around the ecliptic together but there are some bright stars near enough to the ecliptic too occasionally be occulted.
Conjunctions are when the Moon joins with other celestial bodies. A favorite for astrophotographers .
Some of the more enjoyable involve the Moon and two or more planets.
So get out during the month, several times, and enjoy the splendor that is Earth's Moon.
All you have to do is...Just Look UpCelestial Solar System › MOONS › Earth's Moon