Saturday September 18th is first International Observe the Moon Night, falling conveniently before International Talk like a Pirate Day, but I digress matey, arrr.
International Observe the Moon Night is about getting outside in the cool evening air and taking a look at the biggest celestial object within a few million miles: The Moon. And to support that activity, Moon Night was created — along with a host of downloadable materials and ideas to help you host your own Moon Night event.
We would like to encourage everyone who is interested in the Moon and sharing the excitement of lunar science and exploration to host their own InOMN event, and bring it to communities around the world. And we would like to help you do it. This website will provide you with the information, materials, and activities you need, accompanied by a step-by-step guide, to host your own InOMN event. With this, we invite you to be a part of something bigger. Something inspirational. A part of International Observe the Moon Night.
And the folks over at Moon Zoo have put together a special challenge — the mighty Moonmeter(tm).
Moon Zoo is a project that crowdsources lunar feature data by getting people like you and me to take a look at small images of the moon, and identify craters on the surface.
The aim of Moon Zoo is to provide detailed crater counts for as much of the Moon’s surface as possible. Unlike here on Earth where weather quickly erodes any signs of all but the most recent impacts, craters on the lunar surface stay almost until eternity. That means that the number of craters on a particular piece of the surface tells us how old it is. This technique is used all over the Solar System, but the Moon is particularly important because we have ground truth — samples brought back by the Apollo missions — which allow us to calibrate our estimates. Planetary scientists have always carried out this kind of analysis on large scales, but with your help and the fabulous LRO images then we should be able to uncover the finer details of the Moon’s history.
And the Moonmeter challenge is designed to turn this scientific activity into more of a competition.
To take part in the challenge all you have to do is classify things on Moon Zoo using either the Crater Survey or Boulder Wars tools. The Moonometer™ keeps track of the number of LRO images that have been classified and converts them into approximate equivalent areas.
You can also keep track of activity on Moon Zoo via the Moon Zoo Live! page. Here you’ll find ever-updating maps that show how Moon zoo is connecting the Earth to the Moon thanks to our users.
So there you go. Take a break from Halo Reach on Saturday night and get out and take a look at the Moon, if the skies are clear. Enjoy International Observe the Moon Night, and then jump back on your computer and count a few craters in the Moon Zoo. You’ll be doing Science!
This post of is one of many I publish weekly at the Future Shop Techblog. Read more of my stuff here.