Hi, I'm Trish, Program Coordinator at the Space Centre.

Think fast!  How many songs can you name that refer to the Moon, or have Moon in its title? Great song titles like Fly Me to the Moon, or Harvest Moon, and one of the best moon lines in a song (Amore), when the Moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie. Do any of these ring a bell? These songs are just a few of many examples of how the Moon has inspired people for millennia. Making connections to the Moon through song is just a start...when I think of the Moon, I also think about how it relates to cultures, science and exploration.

The Moon is one of the most popular, talked about, and photographed celestial objects in the night sky. For thousands of years, people have looked up at the Moon and used it to track time and understand the seasons. An example of this is the calendar used by the W̱SÁNEĆ People, the Indigenous people who live in the Gulf Islands, San Juan Islands and Saanich Peninsula. The W̱SÁNEĆ People Moon calendar was divided into 13 months, with each named to relate to important events, activities and foods of that month. The W̱SÁNEĆ People aren’t the only culture to develop a lunar calendar. Lunar calendars are common with other cultures around the world.
It’s not surprising that the Moon became the basis for a calendar—it is a bright object in our sky that changes in a predictable way every month. Have a look at the image below. Do these drawings of the phases of the Moon made by the astronomer Galileo in the early 1600s look familiar? This predictable change in how the Moon looks influenced the development of the lunar calendars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credit: Wellcome Image

Galileo and other astronomers used telescopes, a relatively new piece of technology at the time, to study the Moon in more detail. Their observations revealed that the Moon’s surface was not smooth but full of craters. As astronomers spent more time studying the Moon they began to identify other interesting features including mountains, valleys and features they called maria (Latin for seas, but they don’t contain any water).  

It was one of these maria, the Sea of Tranquility, that became the site for one of human’s greatest adventure – landing on the Moon. The Moon, our closest solar system neighbour – just 384,400 km from Earth, would take three days to get there. Only 24 people have made this journey, with just 12 astronauts landing on the Moon. The Apollo 11 astronauts were the first to land on the Moon, in the Sea of Tranquility. Imagine what it would be like to be the first person to set foot on the surface, knowing that no one had walked there before you. Astronaut Neil Armstrong’s first words as he stepped onto the surface, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” were heard around the world. I remember my mom telling me how she sat by her radio during the lunar landing looking up at the Moon in awe and excitement. July 20, 1969 made history.

The Apollo missions in the late 60’s and early 70’s were a ground breaking achievement for science and engineering. Teamwork was key as many professions joined together to make landing on the Moon and returning to Earth safe. No human has set foot on the Moon since, but astronauts plan to return around 2024 with a program called Lunar Gateway. The program will use a space station orbiting above the Moon and it will include a science lab, communication hub and launching pad to further investigate the Moon and beyond. How exciting is that!

So, let’s celebrate the Moon and keep singing those songs. Who knows what the future will bring?

Junior Astronomer Playlist (kids 8-12)
TimeActivity
5mins.

Get inspired by watching the Knowledge Network’s episode Blood Moon and discover why the Moon turns red. 

Ask yourself: What other types of special moons have you heard about?

30mins.

Read the story about how the W̱SÁNEĆ People use the Moon to mark the passing of the seasons.

Ask yourself: Why do you think different cultures have different calendars?

15mins.

Make your own phases of the Moon with the help of some Oreo cookies!  

Ask yourself: Where does the light from the Moon come from?

120+mins.

Record the phases of the Moon just like Galileo. Draw what you see each day. Can you spot a pattern in your own Moon journal?

Ask yourself: How do observations help scientists learn more about the universe?  

20mins.

 

Make your own Moon craters!

Ask yourself: Why do you think there are so many visible craters on the Moon?

Senior Astronomer Playlist (teens 13-15/adults)
TimeActivity
5mins.

Get inspired by watching the Knowledge Network’s episode Blood Moon and discover why the Moon turns red. 

Ask yourself: What other types of special moons have you heard about?

30mins.

Read the story about how the W̱SÁNEĆ People use the Moon to mark the passing of the seasons.

Ask yourself: Why do you think different cultures have different calendars?

60mins.

Discover more about lunar phases and eclipses  and watch this cool video about a special sort of full moon called a blood moon.

Ask yourself: Why are lunar eclipses so rare?

120+mins.

Record the phases of the Moon just like Galileo. Draw what you see each day. Can you spot a pattern in your own Moon journal?

Ask yourself: How do observations help scientists learn more about the universe?  

30mins.

 

Go on a virtual Moon expedition. Explore the surface and then check out the interior by toggling the Views bar on the right side of the webpage.

Ask yourself: What are some similarities and differences between the Moon’s geography and structure in comparison to the Earth’s?

5mins.

 

Discover more about NASA’s Lunar Gateway, which is part of the Artemis program. 

Ask yourself: What do you think drives humans to explore worlds beyond our home planet?