This weekend, for the several billionth or so time in Earthâs history, the Moon will be in the part of its orbit around Earth where itâs a little closer, 16,000 miles closer than usual, and it looks a teeny amount larger. By this point, this so-called âsupermoonâ is a fairly cliched but certainly hyped piece of science news.
But honestly, you should look at the moon. Not just today, but tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. Look at it every night (if you can). Why not? Itâs over four billion years old, itâs an incredible rock only 240 thousand or so miles away. Itâs responsible for the tides and eclipses and moderating the climate. Humans literally walked on that thing. Itâs deeply rooted in culture and religion, and youâll join the billions of others whoâve looked at and appreciated the Moon all through history. You canât look at the Sun, after all.
I take that back, actually. You can look at the Sun! Remember those eclipse glasses you have from this past August that you thought youâd never use again? If theyâre not fake, you can just pop them on and look right at the Sunâdirectly at it, in fact. You can see sunspots, darker areas on the Sun that could be responsible for solar weather, like solar flares.
And as long as youâre looking at the Sun and the Moon, you can look at the stars and the planetsâand even distant galaxies! You can get decent binoculars for a hundred bucks, and a pretty good telescope for less than two hundred. You can look at Saturnâs rings yourself. You can see Jupiterâs stripes. Heck, find a dark enough spot, and you can even see the spiral arms of the Pinwheel Galaxy, or nearby Andromedaâs bright center.
And what about those crazy pictures you see on websites like this one? Yeah, you can go look at that stuff yourself. And if you donât have a telescope, you can just look at some of it with your regular old eyes. Look at the vast Milky Way plastered across the sky and the constellations. Look at the fuzzy tails of passing comets or the bright flashes of meteors.
Oh, is it cloudy out? Bummer. Well, why donât you look at Earth then? This planet has been around for billions of years. You can pull apart its history in its rocks, in the dirt, in its plants and in the animals and in the ocean.
Get a telescope. Get a microscope. Get a chemistry set. Get a metal detector. Canât afford it? Borrow someone elseâs, or go to a public showing at a local university. Build your own radio. Take apart a clock. Grow a garden. Make a volcano.
Look at the Moon. Look at everything. Not just this weekend because the internet told you to. Look at it all the time.