Moon Gazing

Moon Gazing: How To Observe The Moon

Have you ever wondered what was out there, or what lies on the surface of the moon? Well, if you have, you’re about to enter a universe of discovery beyond your belief. Moon gazing is enjoyed by many, but only the bold take it to the next level.

Whether you’re a professional stargazer, or someone who is just starting their space adventure, you’ll want to peer up at the moon. You know, that big floating rock you see every night.

So why the moon? What exactly does the moon have to offer for a stargazer?

These are the questions you’re probably asking yourself right now, but don’t worry, you’re about to discover all of the answers you’ll ever need.

On Top of learning about the moon, and the secrets that rest on the surface, you’ll learn about the tools you’ll need to see them.

Power Tip!

Did you know the best way to view the planets and the moon is by purchasing an inexpensive telescope such as those readily available on Amazon? If you’re in the market for a new telescope we’ve put together some great review articles here:

The moon is closer than you think, and believe it or not, it doesn’t cost a fortune to peer at the surface. Did you know that a pair of binoculars might be all you need?

So let’s dive right in, and take a look at everything you need to know about moon gazing.

How far away is the moon?

The moon is the Earth’s little brother. It fights with the Earth’s tides, and plays a role in tons of folklore. You ever hear of a werewolf?

While werewolves might not be real, you’ll soon discover that the moon is very real. Once you look at it, you’ll never look back. Curiosity will soon take over, and you’ll be wanting more and more.

So before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at the facts you need to know about our little white friend in the sky.

How far away is it?

While the moon might seem like it’s super close to you, when it’s staring down at you in the middle of the night, you might be surprised about just how far away it is. Believe it or not, the moon is actually 238,900 miles away from the earth.

Let me put that in perspective for you.

If the United States is roughly 3,000 miles from New York to California, and takes roughly 3 days to drive across, imagine how long it would take you to drive to the moon.

Don’t worry, we did the math.

If you wanted to drive to the moon, at the same pace you would drive across the United States, it would take you approximately 3,600 hours to drive to the moon (if you drove at 80 miles per hour the whole way).

How many craters are on the moon?

While the sheer distance of the moon is incredible, did you know that moon has over 1,000,000 craters? These craters range from 1 mile to 12 miles in diameter, and they tell a story.

A story of how the moon has protected Earth from thousands of asteroid impacts since its inception. Pretty impressive right? So the next time you look up at the moon, remember that it is your guardian angel.

Checkout our in-depth article about lunar craters.

What is the dark side of the moon?

While you might be familiar with the Pink Floyd song, do you really know what the dark side of the moon is? If not definitely check out the video below…you’re in for a real treat!

If you want to find out, look no further. The dark side of the moon is a portion of the moon that we don’t see. To be a bit more specific, we only really see about 57-59% of the moon’s surface.

So what lies on the other 40%?

While it might disappoint you, this side of the moon is referred to as the far side of the moon. Plus, sorry Pink Floyd fans, but this side of the moon is not exactly dark either. We may never see it, but the sun still rises and sets on the moon.

The science behind the far side of the moon

Try to stay with me for a second, but a lot of this has to do with the rotation and orbit of the moon. The moon takes roughly 29 days to complete one orbit, and at the same time, the moon takes 29 days to complete one rotation. That’s a real head scratcher right?

To help you understand this a bit better, think of it this way:

If the moon takes 29 days to both rotate and orbit the Earth, through every single cycle, you’ll always end up seeing the same side. If the moon rotated faster than its orbit, then you would start to see that not so dark side of the moon. Makes sense right?

So while the far side of the moon might not be dark, that doesn’t mean they lied to you. You really can’t see it, and if you use a telescope, you’ll notice that you can only view the same part of the moon. While this might make moon gazing seem rather limited, you’ll find that you can spend a lifetime viewing the moon’s surface.

What exactly makes up the far side of the moon?

While we can’t see it with a telescope, astronomers have found that the far side of the moon is much like the side you can see. A vast open landscape with rugged terrain. The only difference is that the far side of the moon has one of the largest craters in the entire solar system. Pretty cool right?

If you want to learn more about the far side of the moon, there is a moon map on Amazon by Patrick Moore that has quite a bit of photos, facts, and secrets.

If you’re not a fan of Patrick Moore’s work, or just want to collect them all, there is another great map you can find on Amazon. Philip’s Moon Map, by John Murray, comes stacked with everything you need to get a look at the far side of the moon.

If you want to do some moon gazing beyond your telescope, feel free to take a look at the photos, maps, and facts presented in this easy to read book.

More resources to aid on your moon gazing journey

While you might think you’re a moon gazing expert, you’ll find that you’re probably far from it. Why? Because there is just so much to learn about the surface of the moon. The moon is definitely full of surprises, and if you want to see them all, you’ll need the proper guidance.

Luckily, on Amazon, you’ll find plenty of guides that can help you on your moon gazing journey. So let’s dive in, and take a look at some of the best guides out there for you.

Book of the Moon: A Guide to Our Closest Neighbor

The Book of the Moon, by Maggie Aderin-Pocok, comes packed with all the information you need to start your moon gazing journey. This book is beginner friendly, and makes it easy to find what you’re looking for on the surface of the moon. Plus, believe it or not, this book ranks high with an impressive 5 star rating.

50 Things to See on the Moon

50 Things to see on the Moon is a great guidebook, by John Read, does a great job pointing you in the right direction. If you’re someone who is just getting started, and is eager to set their sights on something promising, this guide will take you there. This book is excellent for first time moon gazes, and comes packed with facts, guides, images, and even tips to help you get the most out of moon gazing.

National Geographic

Who better to trust than National Geographic right? Luckily, if you’re a fan, they have a great guidebook for moon gazing. You’ll find that this book has more than just the moon, and can help you explore even more of the vast solar system we inhabit. In this book, you’ll find maps, guides, images, and even facts about the moon and solar system. Plus, for the price, National Geographic definitely doesn’t let you down.

Starfinder

If you’re looking to unlock the full potential of your telescope or binoculars, you should definitely check out Starfinder: The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Exploring the Night Sky. Carole Stott does a great job providing readers with maps, images, facts, and much more in her book. You definitely won’t be disappointed, and her tips and tricks are unmatched.

Moon Gazing – The Recap

If you want to enter the world of moon gazing, you don’t need to be a millionaire. For the price, you really can’t beat the products on this list. Plus, at the end of the day, everything here costs less than $500.

Moon gazing should be fun for you, the family, and your friends. There is no need to stress about it, especially when you should only be focused on enjoying it.

If you’re unsure on how to begin, start with a pair of binoculars. Let them peak your interest, and as you grow fonder of the moon, upgrade to your heart’s content.

Plus, believe it or not, there are plenty of guidebooks out there that can help you get started on your journey to the moon. Make sure you know what you’re looking at, and make sure you have the right map to get you where you want to be.

Moon gazing is supposed to be extremely enjoyable, and everything in this article is designed to help you get into moon gazing without going broke in the process.

So the question is: are you ready for an Earth shattering experience?

Additional Readings

That concludes our discussion on the “Moon Gazing: How to Observe the Moon”. I hope you enjoyed reading the article as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you enjoyed this article be sure to check out these equally informative articles below right here on AstroJunkies.com: