How to Make the Most of National Moon Day

An Annual Celebration

This Wednesday, July 20, is National Moon Day. It commemorates the day when man first walked on the moon in 1969. Millions watched live as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin touched down in Apollo 11, planted the American flag, and proudly called the occasion “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

National Holiday Potential

As James J. Mullaney, former curator of Exhibits and Astronomy at Pittsburgh’s Buhl Planetarium says, “If there’s a Columbus Day on the calendar, there certainly should be a Moon Day!” Until it becomes a national holiday, here’s how you and your loved ones can plan the perfect Moon Day outing:


Moon Day

Picture-Taking Tips from A NASA Photographer

Joel Kowsky is a photographer and photo editor for NASA. While many of us don’t have access to high-tech dSLR cameras like Joel, his tips can be applied to your cell phone photos too:

The moon is much brighter than it seems.

  • -To capture it properly, use a telephoto lens (200mm or longer) and set your camera to manual mode. Though not necessary, a tripod can be helpful here. Start with an aperture of f/8 and adjust your shutter speed to ISO as needed. Your camera’s autofocus should be enough, but you may need to fine-tune it with your finger. There’s no hard and fast rule for exposure, so experiment until you’re happy with the results.

Take pictures just as it begins to rise (especially just before or after sunset).

  • -This way, you can often catch a bit of a colored glow. However, it can be a little more difficult to capture a sharp picture as you’re shooting through more atmosphere, and there will be some distortion. To capture the clearest and sharpest images, wait until the moon’s a bit higher in the sky.

Don’t be deterred if it’s cloudy.

  • -Clouds, backlit by the moon, can make for a dramatic photo.

Make use of online resources.

  • -There are several online tools that can be used to help plan for observing and photographing the moon and other celestial objects. The U.S. Naval Observatory website is a great resource for the moonrise and moonset times in your area.

Share your photos on social media.

  • -Don’t forget to show off your masterpieces on social media using #MoonDay.

 Indoor Astronomy Fun

If you can’t get outside on Moon Day, here are ten places you can still celebrate astronomy (with a little A/C!):